DOH: Private hospitals must not overwork, underpay health workers fighting COVID-19

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 25 2020 07:58 PM | Updated as of Mar 25 2020 08:48 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health on Wednesday called on private hospitals to treat health workers properly, as the country deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responding to claims that some health workers have been forced to work 12 hours a day without overtime and hazard pay, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH “is urging private hospitals to give proper protection and compensation to their health care workers in accordance with the COVID-19 special risk allowance.”

The recently approved Republic Act 11469, or Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, mandates a COVID-19 special risk allowance for health workers on top of the hazard pay granted under the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers or Republic Act no. 7305.

Vergeire said health workers should be allowed to work for only 6 to 8 hours a day to prevent the lowering of their immune system that can result in them bring infected with COVID-19.

She reminded hospitals to follow occupational safety and health standards, as well.

Health officials also reiterated her call to local government units to provide accommodations for health workers, especially those who live far from the hospital or those who do not want to put their families at risk.

VOLUNTEERS


The DOH has yet to reveal how many health workers have been infected with COVID-19 and how many have died. Medical organizations have earlier reported the death of several doctors who treated COVID-19 patients.

Amid growing concern for health workers, the DOH called for volunteers to serve the newly designated referral centers for COVID-19.

Vergeire said medical professionals are needed in these hospitals, which include the Lung Center of the Philippines and the Philippine General Hospital, as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise.

She assured the public that the volunteers will be given allowance and other benefits. She said officials have resorted to calling for volunteers because it takes time for the government to hire people.

The DOH has also asked for volunteers to help in contact tracing people who interacted with COVID-19 patients.

There are now 636 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines. Of that number, 26 have recovered and 38 have died.