San Lazaro Hospital management defends itself amid complaints from nurses

San Lazaro Hospital management defends itself amid complaints from nurses
This file photo shows the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, a specialty tertiary government hospital that is also a referral facility for infectious and communicable diseases.
The STAR / Edd Gumban, file

MANILA, Philippines — A COVID-19 referral facility in Manila on Monday released a statement in response to several issues raised by its nurses who called for better working conditions.

"We acknowledged with utmost importance the dedication of our nursing staff all through the years of facing several outbreaks and epidemic," San Lazaro Hospital said in a statement which went on to deny almost every claim made by its nurses.

SLH nurses on Friday pleaded for relief in a statement issued by Filipino Nurses United, saying 40 hospital workers have been infected with the deadly respiratory disease. Management responded by saying that this number is cumulative of the total number of infections since March.

Despite this clarification, the hospital's nurses on Friday said that only half of workers infected with COVID-19 have been admitted and confined due to the limited amount of isolation. They added that the rest, who are asymptomatic are self-quarantined and waiting for vacant beds.

SLH also vehemently denied its nurses' claim that it was understaffed.

"With our occupancy rate of only 20% and with the same number of staff that took care of patients at even 80-100% occupancy rate prior to the pandemic (during dengue, leptospirosis, and measles), management DON'T see reasons or basis for their claim of understanding. In fact, standard nurse to patient ratio is being observed accordingly," it said.

SLH nurses in their statement claimed that more space for COVID-19 patients have already been opened up, with regular wards having been converted into COVID-19 wards, despite not having enough manpower for all of them.

Nurses also claimed that understaffing was leading to physical, emotional, and mental fatigue, to which the hospital responded that "management agreed on the work schedule arrangement... that allows less days of work in a week for them to have more rest days."

The hospital added that "psychosocial and debriefing sessions are regularly conducted by our psychiatrist to address the mental and emotional concerns of the staff."

Management also denied its nurses' claims that there was a shortage of personal protective equipment and N95 masks, saying the hospital has enough supplies to last the month.

However, it also clarified that staff handling positive COVID-19 cases are instructed to reuse their N95 masks for 12-hour shifts, which they said is compliant with infection and control guidelines.

In response to its nurses claims that transportation and accommodation were limited, SLH said it has been providing outsourced transport services from its staff in conjunction with its own in-house transportation. It added that it has increased the number of rooms for hotel accommodations for its staff "in addition to the temporary lodging facilities provided to them for their stay in the hospital."

Finally, amid its nurses' claims that their salary increase, the execution of which was approved at the Senate last November, has not yet been implemented, hospital management said it is "compliant in the giving of salaries and benefits in accordance to budget appropriation and guidelines." — Bella Perez-Rubio




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