Mariveles hospital staff face bullying, eviction due to coronavirus fears

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2020 09:01 AM | Updated as of Mar 30 2020 09:42 AM

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MANILA - A hospital in Mariveles, Bataan is now operating on skeleton staff after hospital personnel were subjected to bullying, bashing and discrimination following the death of resident who displayed COVID-19 symptoms, the hospital's chief said Monday.

Mariveles Mental Wellness and General Hospital had been tapped to take in 5 COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms from New Clark City in Tarlac on March 23, according to Dr. Lou Evangelista. One patient has since been discharged after testing negative for the virus.

Meantime, a resident of the barangay where the hospital is located began showing COVID-19 symptoms on March 22 before dying last week.

The death of the COVID-19 patient was announced on March 26, Evangelista said. Barangay officials then "barricaded" the hospital on Thursday evening (March 26) until early Friday (March 27), she added.

"Ang naging effect sa aming staff ay very negative. Nagkaroon po ng discrimination, bashing, bullying. In fact mayroong kami 3 security guards na pinalayas sa kanilang tinitirhan kasi nagtatrabaho sila dito sa Mariveles Mental," Evangelista told radio DZMM.

She added that the security guards were given lodging at the hospital.

"Ang tingin samin parang nakakahawa ka. Binabash na kami sa social media o binabantaan ho na wag ka nang lalabas. Ang ibang staff namin di na nakakapasok dahil binabalaan sila na wag ka nang lalabas. Ngayon po skeletal force kami."

The hospital's personnel were allowed to go outside the barricade the following day after their names were listed down in what Evangelista said may be used for future contact tracing.

The hospital's officials also met with the town mayor on Friday morning and local authorities have since been coordinating to lessen the stigma on health workers, according to Evangelista.

"Nagrespond naman ang health workers ng munisipyo ng Mariveles. Tumutulong din ang chief of police ng Mariveles at iba pang tauhan ng mayor at governor para mawala na po 'yung alalahanin ng mga tao," she said.

"Hopefully po di na naha-harrass ang mga tao namin sa mga checkpoint at kanilang mga bahay."

The Department of Health on Sunday condemned acts of harassment and violence against health care workers. 

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire cited the case of a utility staff member of St. Louis Hospital in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat, whose face was splattered with bleach.

"Mariin pong kinokondena ng ating kagawaran ang karahasan at reports at diskriminasyon sa ating health care workers," Vergeire said.

"Sa panahon ng krisis, nananawagan po kami, itigil po natin ang karahasan. Itigil po natin ang diskriminasyon laban sa ating mga health care workers. Bagkus tayo po ay magtulungan para mas mapadali at mas mapalakas pa ang ating laban kontra COVID-19."

As of Sunday, the Philippines has a total of 1,418 COVID-19 cases, with 71 fatalities and 42 recoveries.

Twelve Filipino doctors have also died fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.