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Health workers say hospitals ‘on the brink of collapse’

By Joseph Cuevas

Health workers said hospitals are on the brink of collapse amid the spike in new number of coronavirus cases around the country.

In a press conference Tuesday, April 7, Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) members said hospitals are overwhelmed with new patients every day and employees themselves are falling ill from the virus.

A number of health workers also resigned or have taken early retirement options due to fear, fatigue, frustration and severe demoralization, AHW said.

Emergency rooms, intensive care units, wards, isolation facilities of private and public hospitals are overcrowded and overflowing, the group said, while tents or modular container vans are full of patients waiting admission.

“Even ordinary rooms are now being used as COVID wards. Outpatient departments are closed in most hospitals and many patients are being bumped off,” the group added.

AHW said understaffing schemes by hospitals force health workers to be on duty for at least 12 hours or even 24 hours while some hospitals only have skeletal forces.

Contractualization in some hospitals, such as job order and contract of services especially for nurses, has worsened during the pandemic, AHW revealed.

AHW officer Sean Velchez said 117 out of 180 Philippine Orthopedic Center employees are Covid-positive.

Screenshot of the AHW=led online press conference.

Delayed benefits and other issues

Union officers of the Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital and National Kidney and Transplant Institute said their hazard pay, performance bonus and health risk allowances have been delayed since 2019.

Meal and transportation allowances are also on hold after the Department of Health (DOH) recalled funds for said benefits, the unions said.

Cristy Donguines of the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Hospital said medical equipment like personal protective gears and gloves as well as medical supplies like oxygen tanks and others are also on low supply.

Philippine General Hospital’s Karen Faurillo complained of failed contact tracing as well as lack of mass testing, isolation and treatment for health workers.

Kodao file photo of an AHW protest action. (Joseph Cuevas/Kodao)

Collapsing health care system

Solidarity of Health Advocates and Personnel for a Unified Plan to Defeat COVID-19 (SHAPE-UP) convenor Dr. Eleanor Jara revealed that primary and secondary health care systems are also failing to help the spread of the virus.

Jara said important community level Covid interventions such as mass testing, contact tracing, equipped quarantine and isolation facilities are inadequate.

Jara, whose husband was among the first medical workers lost to Covid in 2020, said the situation will only worsen as the Department of Health continues to deny government’s inept and failed Covid response.

“The government must also held accountable for the death of 97 health workers since the pandemic and the rising cases of Covid-19 among health workers and people,” she said.

The AHW demanded an overhaul of the inter-agency task force’s militaristic response to the pandemic as well as the resignation of health secretary Francisco Duque.

The group said the Rodrigo Duterte government must also be held accountable for its failed pandemic response. #

‘Para sa lahat ng nurse’

“Ang Filipino Nurses United (FNU) ay buong pusong nagpupugay sa lahat ng nurse sa iba’t ibang panig ng mundo ngayong International Nurses’ Day. Saludo kami sa inyong matapang at masigasig na paglilingkod sa mga mamamayang biktima ng COVID-19. Naniniwala ang FNU na responsibilad ng pamahalaan na tiyakin ang inyong kaligtasan bilang mga frontline health workers. Ang laban ng mga nurse para sa kanilang karapatang mabuhay ay laban ng sambayanang Pilipino.”

Maristela Abenojar, RN, MAN
National President, Filipino Nurses United

Jo Maline Mamangun

‘Look into the plight of our fellow health workers’

“Today, Health Workers’ Day, we call on the government to look into the plight of our fellow health workers and the public hospitals. We reiterate our demand to increase the public health system budget to at least 5% of the GDP as WHO recommends. This will make health care available to the people and will slowdown the COVID-19 infections.”

Robert Mendoza, RM.
National President,
Alliance of Health Workers

Health group demands mandatory mass testing for all health workers

By Joseph Cuevas

The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) demanded from the Duterte administration and the Department of Health (DOH) the implementation of free mandatory Coronavirus mass testing for all health workers in public and private hospitals and health facilities.

In a statement, AHW president Robert Mendoza said they disagree with the statement issued by the DOH last Tuesday that only patients and healthcare workers who exhibit mild, severe and critical symptoms would be prioritized in the expanded mass testing.

Mendoza said that as front liners health workers should be checked regularly and must be coronavirus free since they are the ones taking care of patients.

“We are very much worried and alarmed about the health condition of our fellow heath workers. Mostly, those health workers who died were infected due to lack of personal protective equipment, aggravated by 12 hours duty a day for 7 to 8 days,” Mendoza said.

AHW photo

“The government must immediately distribute PPE to ensure and protect health workers, hire and train more additional permanent health workers, and increase the public hospital budget,” he added.

Mendoza also urges DOH to immediately issue directives to conduct free mandatory mass testing among hospital workers in public and private hospitals and health facilities to help contain the spread of the virus as well as immediately implement medical interventions.

AHW also asked the government to implement mass testing at the barangay level and provide proper orientation and protective gear to all barangay health workers (BHW) accompanied by a nurse to do the house to house inspection to ensure that all COVID-19 patients will be traced and treated.

DOH reported that there are 766 health workers who tested positive, 339 of whom are doctors while 342 are nurses.

Twenty two health workers have succumbed to the disease.

The Philippines has recorded 5878 cases of the coronavirus disease, 387 of which resulted in deaths, giving the country the worst record in Southeast Asia and the highest percentage of health worker fatalities in the world. #

‘Walang makikinabang, lahat talo’

Hinggil sa ipinatupad na deployment ban ng gobyerno sa ating mga health workers…

“Kung i-e-employ ang mga healthcare workers, siguradong may makikinabang, siguradong may matutulungan, dito man o sa ibang bansa. Kung itetengga sila rito pero hindi naman i-ha-hire ng gobyerno, walang makikinabang, lahat talo.”

Dr. Gene Nisperos

Asst. Professor, UP College of Medicine

Jo Maline Mamangun

Health workers show solidarity with Lumad

Alliance of Health Workers members from government hospitals held a candle-lighting activity today to show their solidarity with indigenous peoples in Mindanao. They denounced the human rights violations against the Lumad by the military that resulted in massacres, rape, harassments and forced evacuation in Bukidnon, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur and the Davao provinces.

Philippine Heart Center, Quezon City
September 26, 2015

Sit-down strike against privatization of Orthopedic Center

Philippine Orthopedic Center, Quezon City
March 13, 2015

Hundreds of health workers, patients and their families today converge at the hospital’s drive way and with clenched fists, chant “Save POC” and “Junk PPP/Privatization” and “On site developement with public funds”.

“Let us send our strong message to Sec. Garin and Malacanang that privatizing POC will be the death of a public hospital specializing in bone deseases. It would mean the deprivation of around 500 outpatient poor people who patiently line up as early as 4 am until 5 pm everday to be treated. Also the 80-90% poor patients who are hospitalized for one month to more than 10 years and who rely only to the hospital’s equipments and expertise in order to live,” says Mr. Sean Velchez, president of National Orthopedic Health Workers Union-Alliance of Health Workers.