The Filipino Nurses United is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to conduct a mass hiring of nurses to to meet the projected 75,000 COVID-19 cases over the next three months.
FNU president Maristela P. Abenojar said the government should hire at least one regular nurse per barangay or a total of 42,000 public health nurses dedicated to COVID-19 public health education, assistance in massive community testing, contact tracing, and feedback on the status of persons under monitoring (PUMs) and persons under
Abenojar said this mass hiring would cost at least P5.5 billion to cover their basic salary and hazard pay for the initial three months of operation.
She reckoned this was better than putting out a call for volunteers at a pitiful compensation of P500 per day.
“There is enough budget to support the mass hiring of nurses in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. The Office of the President also has a total of P1.7 trillion under the special purpose fund. If the Department of Tourism has been granted P14 billion from the P27.1-billion package to help frontliners fight the pandemic, why not listen to our appeal for the massive hiring of much-needed nurses?” said Abenojar.
The mass hiring is in answer to Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire’s warning that as many as 75,000 cases would emerge in the the next three months.
The Department of Health Bureau of Human Resource for Health reported that there were only 90,308 locally employed nurses in 2017,of which only around 31,000 were under DOH-retained hospitals. This means there is one nurse to 12 patients in the bedside setting.
Aside from a mass hiring FNU suggested that the government dedicate at least one hospital per region which would make 17 centers available to all PUIs and confirmed COVID-19 cases.
“Each hospital must be equipped with necessary facilities (isolation room, negative pressure room, emergency ward, and triage area) and with additional 240 regular nurses with Nurse 1 position, in anticipation of at least 40 PUIs/confirmed cases,” she said.
“The severe understaffing of nurses in most hospitals in the country had been reported to the government by both public and private hospitals in the last three years. This has been further aggravated by the current pandemic, with nurses in regular wards assigned to take care of PUIs and confirmed COVID-19 cases. These nurses go on quarantine after their duty, and another set of nurses is pulled out from other wards to attend to the said patients. Worse, some nurses, doctors, and other health workers have become PUIs themselves due to exposure to the virus,” said Abenojar.