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Phili Clinic

‘Covid wards understaffed’ – DUE TO INCOMPETENT GOVERNMENT

Phili Clinic



The severe lack of medical workers threatens the country’s campaign to curb the transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and has compelled hospitals and medical facilities to operate understaffed Covid wards and intensive care units (ICUs), a group of nurses said on Sunday.

John Eric Mendoza

The San Lazaro Hospital added a tent outside building because Covid ward in Manila “almost full”-

The shortage of nurses was so bad that it had left hospitals violating quarantine protocols, Filipino Nurses United national president Maristela Abenojar warned.

 July 20, 2020

She disclosed that some medical facilities had shortened the quarantine period for exposed medical staff to five or seven days instead of 14 days as prescribed by the Department of Health. In some instances, there is no quarantine at all.

Abenojar claimed that the Philippine General Hospital reduced its quarantine period to seven days.

She refused to name the other facilities that cut quarantine days.

“There are even cases when hospitals pull out nursing staff in regular wards and deploy them to Covid wards, then [they] get deployed back to non-Covid wards without undergoing quarantine. That’s alarming,” she said in a radio interview.

Abenojar claimed that nurses and other medical staff were exhausted because they had to work long hours.

“Some nurses only have an eight-hour shift, but the 12-hour-a-day is now normal.”

She explained that longer working hours increased the risk of exposure: “Prolonged exposure means they increased their risk of contracting the disease.”

She cited the need to address the understaffing in Covid-19 wards.

The Department of Health’s (DoH) regular nurse-to-patient ratio is one for every 12 patients per ward.

“But the DoH did not issue a standard ratio for Covid wards,” Abenojar told The Manila Times. “This could be a problem because hospitals now have different implementations.”

She pointed out that while the one-is-to-12 ratio was acceptable in normal wards, this should not be the case in Covid wards.

“We have to consider that they are wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) so their movement is constrained,” Abenojar explained.

Some hospitals reported that their Covid wards had one nurse attending to 12 patient.

The DoH standard for Covid ICU wards is one nurse for one patient. But medical personnel are stretched so thinly in some facilities that one nurse has to attend to five ICU patients.

The Health department had promised to release guidelines on the coronavirus testing and quarantine of healthcare workers, Abenojar said.

The department earlier said the government would address the shortage of medical personnel by hiring 15,000 health workers.

Since March this year, 3,513 health care workers have been infected with the virus. Some 34 health workers have died, including doctors.

As of July 19, the Philippines coronavirus tally was 67,456, as the Health department reported 2,241 new cases.

The death toll is 1,831.

Contact tracers

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said on Sunday that the country’s contact tracing capacity rose to 98 percent, as 69,000 contact tracers were deployed to help contain Covid-19.

He added that 69,098 contact tracers were assigned to 5,215 tracing teams nationwide.

They are actively aiding communities in monitoring asymptomatic and symptomatic Covid-19 patients and their close contacts.

Region 4B (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), Bicol, Zamboanga Peninsula, Caraga and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao had a 100-percent contact tracing capability, according to Año. Northern Mindanao, Western Visayas and Cagayan Valley had the lowest with 87.47 percent, 80.11 percent and 74.41 percent, respectively.

“Our local contact tracing teams nationwide are working double-time to interrupt the transmission and reduce the spread of infection. This way, we can cover all the bases in the end-to-end trace-test-treat management system against this virus,” Año said in a statement.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government was waiting for the DBM to approve the proposal to hire around 50,000 contact tracers “to further intensify our contact tracing efforts,” he added.

Higher pay

Meanwhile, Quezon City First District Rep. Anthony Peter Crisologo pushed a bill that seeks to grant hazard pay to health workers and frontliners in health emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic.

Crisologo said House Bill (HB) 6750 is among the nine measures proposing additional pay to frontliners in times of pandemics, epidemics, outbreaks or public health emergencies. The bills are pending at the House Committee on Health.

Under HB 6750, all front-liners and other essential workers in public and pri-vate sectors shall be given an additional non-taxable compensation equivalent to 25 percent of their basic salary.

The hazard pay will be provided to all frontline regular, contractual and job order employees in medical and health facilities and laboratories, pharmacies, funeral services, groceries, markets and restaurants, law enforcement agencies, public utility and telecommunications companies, media entities, waste management and sanitation, banks, transportation and other essential services.

“The bill aims to acknowledge the exceptional contribution, effort and commitment of our frontliners and other employees in essential industries by introducing an inclusive measure to provide them with additional support and protection through mandated hazard payments to improve their financial security,” Crisologo said.


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