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Still no changes to protect health workers vs. COVID-19 in the workplace —nurses’ group

There have been almost no changes made to better protect health workers against COVID-19 in the workplace since the pandemic started, a nurses’ group said Sunday.

Interviewed on Dobol B sa News TV, Filipino Nurses United (FNU) president Maristela Abenojar said some nurses work 12-hour shifts, attend to as many as 12 patients, and have resorted to buying their own personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Sa totoo po naman, ang kalagayan sa kanilang lugar-paggawa ay hindi nagkaroon ng pagbabago simula pa noong February kung saan nagsimula ang cases ng COVID-19,” she said.

Abenojar said the lack of PPEs has forced some nurses to buy their own or reuse their sets for a 12-hour shift.

She also lamented the “prolonged exposure” of some nurses to COVID-19 since they are made to work 12 hours a day.

Abenojar added that many hospitals remain understaffed despite the Department of Health’s (DOH) emergency hiring program, citing conversations she had with 10 hospitals in Metro Manila and several other FNU members in Cebu and other regions.

“Wala naman pong binabanggit na bilang ng deployed DOH personnel galing do’n sa emegency hiring so nananatili pa rin silang understaffed. So ang ratio ng ating nurse sa pasyente sa COVID ward, nasa isang nurse, pinaka-minimum pito o walong pasyente, ‘yung iba hanggang 12,” she said.

“Nakaka-demoralize rin ang ganitong kalagayan kasi bukod sa may takot ka na baka ikaw ma-infect at maaari mo itong ikamatay, nando’n din ‘yung walang appreciation sa ating mga nurses,” she added.

Abenojar also revealed that some hospitals do not give their medical staff time to complete the 14-day quarantine after one to two weeks on duty.

“‘Yung dating 14 days, ngayon sa ibang ospital… seven days na lang ngayon, ‘yung iba five days, ‘yung iba wala nang quarantine days. Parang normal duty na walang COVID-19,” she said.

A total of 3,899 health workers have contracted COVID-19 as of July 18, according to the DOH.

Of this number, 3,165 have recovered, 35 died, and over 1,000 are nurses.

The media have sought comment from the DOH on the matter but have not yet received a response as of writing. — BM, GMA News