Amid manpower woes, PGH to let asymptomatic health staff to work

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2022 04:42 PM

 The facade of the Philippine General Hospital in Manila on May 5, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
The facade of the Philippine General Hospital in Manila on May 5, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) on Saturday said it was allowing its healthcare workers to skip quarantine if they are asymptomatic of COVID-19, a move that would enable the hospital to continue operating as the country faces a new wave of infections.

In a televised briefing, PGH spokesperson Jonas Del Rosario said one-fourth of their health workers — or about 250 — were COVID positive.

Some 1,200 to 2,000 frontliners are directly involved in manning COVID-related operations, according to Del Rosario. The PGH is the country's largest COVID-referral center.

"Lahat ng asymptomatic . . . Na na-expose, hindi na po namin sila pinagka-quarantine. Basta wala silang symptoms, tuloy lang po ang trabaho kasi hindi po namin kayang i-quarantine ang napakaraming empleyado, doktor, nurses, at mga support staff kasi wala na pong magseserbisyo sa ospital," Del Rosario said. 

(All asymptomatic staff who were exposed, we no longer let them quarantine. As long as they do not have symptoms, we let them work because we cannot put that many workers under quarantine — doctors, nurses, support staff — because no one would be left to run the hospital.)

"Ngayon po, ang policy namin, unless maging symptomatic ka, ’pag ikaw ay na-expose . . . Pero wala ka pa namang symptoms, tuloy lang ang trabaho. Hindi ka magka-quarantine. ’Yan po ang crisis response ng PGH ngayon para di tayo mawalan o mapilayan ng tao."

(Our policy now is, unless you are symptomatic, if you were exposed to a positive patient but you do not have symptoms, the work will continue. You won't be quarantined. That's the crisis response of PGH so we won't lose our manpower.)

He assured that the hospital is also protecting its health care workers from catching the novel coronavirus, and they do not let the symptomatic ones continue working. 

They also have a daily routine monitoring for health workers to ensure that those with symptoms could rest and isolate. 

"Level up po ang aming PPE, lahat po ng health workers [naka] N95 basta tumitingin ng mga pasyente," he said. 

(We leveled up our PPE, while our health workers are wearing N95 masks as long as they interact with the patients.)

"Hindi rin naman namin isasabak ang doktor natin, nurses, kung sila ay may nararamdaman. Ang pinag-uusapan natin, kapag asymptomatic po, kahit na nagkaroon ng exposure, ay hindi muna sila ika-quarantine for now."

(We would not let our doctors, nurses work if they are experiencing symptoms. We are only referring to the asymptomatic workers.)

The Philippines is experiencing a fresh wave of new COVID-19 cases, which experts believe is being driven by the more transmissible omicron variant. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier this week said his agency is preparing for the "worst-case scenario" in the country's pandemic situation by sourcing health care workers from different sectors to aid in the virus fight.

On Saturday, health authorities confirmed 26,458 more infections — the highest since the pandemic began. 

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Video courtesy of PTV