Health dep't gave 'industrial, not medical-grade' masks to San Lazaro Hospital: nurses group

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 20 2020 02:58 PM | Updated as of Jul 20 2020 03:07 PM

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MANILA — The health department sent workers at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila City industrial-grade masks that might not help them dodge the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, a nurses group said Monday. 

The masks were part of 4,000 sets of personal protective equipment the Department of Health sent after a recent protest of San Lazaro Hospital workers, said Filipino Nurses United president Maristela Abenojar. 

"Ito po ay maaaring makatulong sa proteksyon sa mga alikabok o dust, pero hindi po siya medical grade na kailangan bilang proteksyon laban sa virus ng COVID-19," Abenojar told TeleRadyo. 

(This can help as protection from dust, but these are not medical-grade, which is necessary for protection against COVID-19.) 

"Ang nangyari po ay parang false security na sila ay ligtas, pero sa totoo po ay hindi po it sapat, angkop ayon sa kanilang kalagayan," she added.

(What happens is they get a false sense of security that they are safe, but in truth, this is not enough, not appropriate for their condition.) 

San Lazaro's COVID-19 unit currently has 80 patients. The health department has required the hospital to expand its coronavirus bed capacity to 30 percent out of its 500 beds, Abenojar said, which means it could accept up to 150 COVID-19 patients. 

"Sana kasabay ng pagbubukas ng mga bagong ward para sa mga COVID patient ay agaran din po ang pagha-hire ng additional nurses upang sa gayoon po ay hindi magkaroon ng overexposure ang ibang nurses natin doon dahil sa understaffing," she said. 

(We hope that together with the opening of new wards for COVID-19 patients, additional nurses will be immediately hired so that other nurses there won't suffer from overexposure due to understaffing.)

The health department's administrative and finance teams are continuously talking to hospitals about their needs, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire. 

"Titingnan natin yang hinanaing na yan sa iba’t ibang ospital natin.
Ngayon meron naman tayong suportang ibinibigay. Pina-iigting natin ang pagha-hire natin para madagdagan ang tao sa ospital," she told reporters. 
 
(We are looking at the complaints of our different hospitals. We are giving them support. We are stepping up our hiring to increase hospital workers.)

- With reports from Kristine Sabillo and Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News