As hospitals are overwhelmed, so are frontline health workers who take care of patients. The Solidarity of Health Advocates and Personnel for a Unified Plan to Defeat COVID-19 (SHAPE-UP Defeat Covid 19) urges the Duterte administration to immediately solve the life-threatening situation of hospital workers and appeals to hospital directors to report the real situation and be one with the hospital workers.
The pandemic has taken its toll on these hospital workers. One hundred twenty-four have died of the Covid virus in the last 12 months and thousands have been infected. In Jose R. Reyes Memorial and Medical Center, 424 have been sick of Covid from March 2020 to March 21. At the Jose Fabella Hospital, 150 have been sick while there have been 35 at the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine. Very recently, Philippine Orthopedic Center sent distress calls to the DOH after 118 hospital workers tested positive to Covid-19.
The hospital workers lament the callous attitude of the Duterte administration and the Department of Health. They said “Sino pa ba ng tutulong sa amin”(Who else will help us)?
The long-running problems of understaffing of health workers and extended hours of work even before the pandemic have been behind their woeful situation. In addition, though there are funds from Bayanihan 2 for Special Risk Allowance, meal allowance and accommodation, these benefits have been delayed, or not given at all.
At Jose R. Reyes Memorial Hospital, the cost of PPEs used by a team of six hospital workers at the Operating Room is being charged to the patient. Cristy Donquines, president of the JRRMH-Alliance of Health Workers Chapter said “Bakit sa pasyente pinapabayad? Mahirap nga un kaya sa government hospital pumunta” (Why does the patient have to pay for this? He has no money that is why he goes to a government hospital).
At the Philippine General Hospital, hospital workers are made to pay for their own N-95 masks which administration said they can use for three days. In many government hospitals, they also pay for their own surgical masks and face shields.
Worse, when the hospital workers themselves become mildly infected with Covid, they have to pay for their expenses because it is not PhilHealth covered.
With all their woes, they are heroes who break their backs taking care of the sick even under emotional pressure and life-threatening working conditions. SHAPE-UP calls on the Duterte administration to dialogue with hospital leaders and union officers as well as hospital directors. The concern is aired in support to hospital workers who seek solutions to their stressful working conditions, especially in this Covid-19 pandemic.
SHAPE-UP to Defeat Covid 19 demands the following:
- Protect health care workers in public and private facilities. Uphold their rights and welfare
- Mass hiring of health personnel instead of augmentation or redeployment of health care workers (doctors, nurses, facility staff, and other allied health professions) with regular positions and increased/adequate compensation and benefits to adequately attend to the ongoing surge of patients
- Provision of complete, appropriate and high quality PPEs
- Free and regular rt-PCR testing every 2 weeks of duty for all health care workers
- 40-hour duty in a week followed by at least 14-days quarantine with pay
- Free transportation, decent board and lodging
- Allocated facility and provisions for sick health workersFree hospitalization when sick, support for essential needs during quarantine, and P200,000 compensation for all COVID-19 positive health workers
- Indemnify all health workers who have died because of the pandemic by at least P1M
- Psycho-social support and management