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Opinion

Pandemonium in hospitals, panic and demoralization among frontliners

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

The senators and congressmen who are paid hundreds of thousands of pesos in public funds monthly, and billions annually, should donate their salaries, benefits, perks, and allowances to the overworked, over-burdened, pressured, sickly, and tired medical frontliners who are left alone to confront the face of death unaided, in the lowest ebb of their morale. The Cabinet members who are working or not working at all from home and even the governors and mayors and councilors, who are all also handsomely paid, should offer something substantially more than the meager compensation for doctors, nurses, and other medical service providers.

Many of our health workers have tested positive for the coronavirus themselves, and some of them have succumbed to it. Many are suffering from some mental and psychological disturbances. They saw with their own eyes how people have died because they could not be attended to as soon as they arrived at the vicinity of the medical institutions. These patients could not be attended to immediately for lack of space, for lack of medical practitioners, sometimes for lack of hospital equipment, supplies, and other resources. The doctors, nurses, attendants, medical technologists, radiologists, and other health professionals are attending to too much work all at the same time. They are multi-tasking because the number of patients are growing every five minutes and the service providers are simply not enough. This is a very serious crisis and the response of the government is too little and too late, and often incoherent and disjointed.

There is pandemonium in the emergency rooms, in the admitting sections, in the wards, and even in the accounting units. Some private hospitals owned by famous tycoons are collecting millions from wealthy patients and these medical institutions are demanding for deposits to the tune of hundreds of thousands. While the minds of the families of victims are being tortured by worries regarding the conditions of their loved ones, their very sad predicament is exacerbated by the hospitals' very urgent and unforgiving demand for money, money ad infinitum. Well, the hospitals might have their own reason because they need to pay their personnel, but if they abuse their authority in these times of crisis, they should be answerable to the Department of Health and other regulating agencies of government. Some greedy hospital owners are raking in millions each day while the people are struggling to survive, and healthcare employees are dying from being overworked, underpaid, and often neglected.

Many hospital employees have already resigned or simply went AWOL. Thus, the remaining personnel force are overspread, working for over 12 to 18 hours a day. The management has already violated all the occupational health and safety protocols for their own employees. Perhaps they could be forgiven this time for if they do not bite the bullet now, they would not be able to fulfill their mission of saving lives and giving the patients enough care and immediate attention. This is now a very delicate situation. The patients are rising in numbers at geometric proportions, while the hospital employees are dwindling. For a nurse, with her level of pay, would not be motivated to risk her life if she gets the virus and then infects her own family thereafter. That is why, I propose an extra monthly hazard pay equal to the daily equivalent of a senator's and congressman's daily rate. And it is not cheap.

How do we attract, retain, and motivate our frontliner doctors and nurses to stay in their job? Pay them double their salary for the duration of the pandemic, and give them hazard pay taken from the budget for senators and congressmen. These are extraordinary times. We should think of extraordinary solutions. Don't tell me about lack of funds. Private hospitals are making bundles of millions nowadays. And the government is overpaying many under-performing legislators who do not even attend plenary sessions and committee hearings even when they are being held via digital platforms. These are times when we do not need legislators, but we do need doctors and nurses.

DEATH
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