No mass exodus of nurses in SPMC, says hospital chief

Jul. 06, 2021

Two health workers who finished their night shift at a local hospital waited for nearly an hour at for their ride offered by the city government as the city started its enhanced community quarantine to control the spread of Covid-19.(Kath M. Cortez/

DAVAO CITY – The head of the Southern Philippine Medical Center (SPMC), Davao Region’s main center for COVID-19 care, denied earlier reports that the hospital is seeing an average of five nurses resigning every day amid the surge of COVID-19 cases.

SPMC Chief Dr. Ricardo Audan was reacting to a statement by Dr. Marie Yvette Barez, SPMC Adult Infectious Diseases Specialist, that was reported by the government-owned Radyo Pilipinas Davao and the Davao City Government’s Disaster Radio.

Audan pointed out that Dr. Barez is not the medical chief of the institution and should only focus on the Covid-19 concerns.

The SPMC chief clarified that only four nurses have resigned in March and April to find work aboard or for personal reasons. This was reflected in a press briefing last May 26.

“Meron nagresign because of greener pasture, matagal na nag-apply sa UK, sa US (There were those who resigned because they longed for greener pasture and had applied for UK or US for awhile), but definitely not due to Covid. And if totoo man, sobrang undermanned na sana kami. (If it were true, we could have been undermanned by now), ” Dr. Audan said in a phone interview.

Audan further clarified that the problem in SPMC is the need to hire more nurses and medical staff amid the rise of COVID-19 patients in SPMC.

Hospitals and treatment centers in Davao Region are overwhelmed with 8,000 active cases in the past few weeks.

SPMC is expanding both its Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds from 27 to 92 and hospital wards from 200 to 361-bed capacity. But Audan had earlier sought the Davao City Council on June 14 to help address their problem with lack of applicants for this expansion.

“We can expand our rooms and beds, but we have a problem with regards to staffing,” Audan said during the City Council session.

Audan said the current ratio of nurses per patient is now 1:25, which is “way higher” than usual and may even increase.

The SPMC chief also dismissed claims that hospital has not regularized its workers that led to many resignations. He said there have been more staff that have regular status this month.

“In fact start(ing) July 1 our data showed 711 to 1190 (regular workers) so this is a high figure,” he said.

“This is why we salute the frontliners here, in spite of that, they stay with us because at least we gave them all the benefits, like hazard pay, allowances, PPEs, accommodation,” Dr. Audan added.

Mayor Sara Duterte, when asked to comment on this shortage during her Special Hour Program on Disaster Radio on Monday, said this is a matter for the Department of Health to handle.

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