Visayas healthcare workers come to NCRâs rescue
The Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas and the Department of Health (DOH)-7 sent the volunteers off yesterday. The 50 include 11 doctors, 35 nurses, and four medical technologists.

Visayas healthcare workers come to NCR’s rescue

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - April 8, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  At least 50 doctors, nurses, and medical technologists from Cebu have flowed to Luzon Wednesday to help in the fight against COVID-19 in the National Capital Region and neighboring areas whose healthcare workers have been vastly overwhelmed by the recent resurgence of cases.

The Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas and the Department of Health (DOH)-7 sent the volunteers off yesterday. The 50 include 11 doctors, 35 nurses, and four medical technologists.

The volunteers will be stationed at the National Kidney Transplant Institute, Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, Rizal Medical Center, and Tondo Medical Center.

Sixteen other healthcare workers from Region 8 – 15 nurses and a doctor – will augment the Visayas team in the coming days.

Medical executives and other Cebu officials attended the send-off at the Montebello Villa Hotel.


On top of their monthly salary, the medical workers from Cebu will receive monthly cash incentives each from OPAV, Cebu Provincial government, and the Cebu City government.

Five thousand will come from OPAV and the Project Balik Buhay (PBB); P5,000 will come from Cebu Province, including vitamins and air purifier; and P10,000 will come from Cebu City.

After three months, Cebu Province will give additional P10,000 each to the volunteers.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said the volunteers never asked for additional honorarium but the city deemed it appropriate to give them, considering the risks involved in their decision.

“We just find it appropriate. They will be staying away from their families and, of course, taking the risk of volunteering to go to NCR and help in the fight against COVID-19,” Labella said.

He said the City Council supports the city’s commitment for honorarium for the volunteers.

“It was approved in principle because the vice mayor was there and some members of the Sanggunian, Edu Rama and, of course, the budget in-charge, Raymond Garcia,” Labella said.

Other forms of support

Aside from manpower, OPAV is also sending 100 vials of Remdesivir, 10 vials of Tocilizumab medicine, and over 300 units of blood and convalescent plasma to help COVID-19 patients in what is now called the NCR Plus. These items are donations from the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City.

A total of 355 blood units (200 O+, 80 B+, 50 A+ and 25 AB+) were sent to NCR+ last Monday while 130 other units of red blood cells (100 O+, 20 B+ and 10 AB+) and 20 O+ convalescent plasma were sent on Wednesday, April 7.

DOH-7, through the efforts of Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, its chief pathologist, previously sent blood units due to scarcity of blood products in NCR Plus, another consequence of the resurgence.


Earlier, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health called on healthcare workers from different parts of country with lower COVID-19 cases to assist in areas that have been overburdened by case resurgence.

Cebu was the first to heed the call outside of Luzon – to pay it forward, so to speak, after receiving tremendous help from other regions at the peak of its own battle against the coronavirus in 2020. That year, Cebu was tagged as a COVID-19 hotspot in the country.

“I‘m also thankful to my friends in the private sector for responding to my call and rendering as much help as they can in making this effort come into fruition,” said OPAV Secretary Michael Dino said during the send-off.

He also recognized the efforts of DOH-7 led by Regional Director Jaime Bernadas and Project Balik Buhay (PBB) Chairman Edmun Liu and co-chair Kenneth Cobonpue.

“From mass testing to our temporary treatment and monitoring facilities, then the Visayas COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center… still they are with us in our efforts in giving assistance to NCR Plus,” Dino said. — Caecent Noot-Magsumbol, JMO (FREEMAN)

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