Nurses plead for relief as 40 San Lazaro workers test positive for COVID-19
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
Nurses plead for relief as 40 San Lazaro workers test positive for COVID-19
Agatha Maria Gregorio ( - July 10, 2020 - 10:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — Nurses from San Lazaro Hospital, a COVID-19 referral facility in Manila, called for better working conditions after more than 40 hospital employees are confirmed positive with the virus.

“We were trained to handle infectious diseases for decades, but apparently we are now becoming the victims,” said San Lazaro Hospital nurses in the Filipino Nurses United’s statement released Friday.

Due to the limited amount of isolation beds, only half of hospital staff confirmed COVID-19 positive are admitted and confined. The rest who are asymptomatic are self-quarantined and waiting for vacant beds.

But the FNU statement also claims 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.

“This puts a high risk to the nurses’ health for it will result in overfatigue, and will eventually end up with more nurses getting infected, may it be due to health issues or infection protocol breach,” said the FNU.

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They also explained that the decreased number of staff, shortage of supplies, limited transportation, and unjust salary has led to physical, mental and emotional fatigue among those remaining, and this has negatively affected efforts to combat the virus.

"Nursing staff assigned to COVID wards are provided with only one N95 mask for the whole shift and are instructed to reuse them, whilst some doctors have to buy their own to protect themselves," the statement said.

"To add more insult to our injuries, the increase in salary for nurses is still not implemented despite the rulings of the Supreme Court," they added.

Approval to properly execute Section 32 of the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 was decided last November at the Senate. The law states that the minimum base pay for government nurses should start at P31,545 a month or Salary Grade 15. But according to the FNU, this has yet to be implemented.

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