MANILA - An organization of Filipino nurses on Tuesday bared challenges that many of their members face in the line of duty as many lack protective equipment while handling patients with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
"Marami ang nagkukuwento sa amin na hirap na hirap na sila sa kanilang pag-duty dahil sa kakulangan ng proteksiyon o PPE (personal protective equipment). Sa katunayan, nakakalungkot, dahil mayroon na kaming kasamahang nurses, sila mismo ay may sakit na na COVID-19," said Jocelyn Andamo, secretary general of the group Filipino Nurses United.
(Many tell us that they are finding it difficult to go on duty because of the lack of PPEs. In fact, sadly, we already have members who themselves are infected with COVID-19.)
Andamo called on government to immediately release and distribute PPEs to nurses and other healthcare workers in both private and public hospitals.
The DOH had said Monday that it purchased 1 million sets of PPEs for health workers involved in the COVID-19 response.
Given how contagious the disease is, Andamo said frontline healthcare workers need a high-level of protection to prevent being infected themselves.
"Yung pagkakaroon ng sakit ng mga nurses ng COVID-19 ay isang indikasyon na kulang na kulang ang proteksiyon ng ating mga frontliners. Agad-agad po sanang mai-provide na ang mga PPEs. Sana 'wag na nating hintayin na maubos nurses at doctors natin.
(Nurses already getting sick is an indication of the lack of protection for our frontliners. We hope they provide the PPEs immediately. Let's not wait until we lose all our nurses and doctors.)
The group is also calling for a mass hiring of nurses and medical personnel to fill the gap left by healthcare workers already under quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19 patients.
"Bilang suporta, kailangan po tayong magdagdag ng nurses at personnel sa ating mga ospital at ating komunidad," Andamo said.
(As support, we need to augment the nurses and personnel in our hospitals and communities.)
She said there are an estimated 200,000 unemployed nurses who can be tapped and deployed to barangays and COVID-19 referral hospitals to help in the monitoring, testing and contact-tracing procedures.
The group also hopes that government will ensure just compensation, hazard pay and other benefits for nurses to encourage them to stay and serve in the country.
"Demoralized na ang marami sa kanila at takot na takot nang mag-duty. Pakiramdam nila wala silang sapat na proteksiyon laban dito sa virus na COVID-19. Pero dahil nandiyan ang dedikasyon nila na maglingkod pa rin, araw-araw pa rin silang pumapasok," she said.
(Many of them are demoralized and afraid to go on duty. They feel that there is not enough protection for them against this virus. But since they are dedicated to serve, they still go to work every day.)
Meanwhile, she urged the public for kindness and compassion for nurses and other healthcare workers in the frontline as several have already reported experiencing discrimination.
The DOH earlier issued a call for volunteer health workers to augment the current manpower in Philippine hospitals.