By MB Online and Analou De Vera
Health workers and staff members of Mariveles Mental Wellness General Hospital (MMWGH) in Bataan faced bullying and discrimination after receiving coronavirus disease 2019 (COIVD-19) patients from New Clark City in Tarlac.
“Nagkaroon po ng discrimination, bashing, bullying. In fact, meron kaming tatlong security guards na pinalayas doon sa kanilang tinitirhan kasi nag ta-trabaho sila dito sa Mariveles Mental (There have been discrimination, bashing, bullying. In fact, three of our security guards were evicted from their homes just because they are working at Mariveles Mental),” Maria Lourdes Evangelista, head of MMWGH, told DZMM on Monday.
“Yung isa pong staff natin ‘di na nakakapasok dahil binabalaan silang wag lumabas..Ang tingin nila sa amin nakakahawa (One of our staff members has not been allowed to leave the house. They think we are infectious).”
Evangelista said the three security guards are currently staying in the quarters of the hospital, while most of their workers were allowed not to report for work since they were being threatened and harassed.
“Sa ngayon po, skeleton workforce kami,” she said.
Evangelista said the discrimination against their staff began after their facility was placed on lockdown on March 26 to 27.
MMWGH was barricaded after it was announced that a resident living near Barangay Poblacion — the same area where the hospital is located — died after exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
The MMWGH chief, however, clarified that the resident who died was not brought to their facility.
Evangelista also lamented how they received blame for the death of the resident just because they accepted patients from New Clark City.
Evangelista underscored that their facility was assigned by the Crisis Management Team of the Department of Health (DOH) to handle the quarantine procedures of mild cases from New Clark City.
“Sinisisi kami ba’t kumuha ng COVID positive sa New Clark City, eh sino pa po ba ang tutulong sa kanila, kundi kami din (We’re being blamed for accepting COVID-19 positive patients in New Clark City, but who else can help them but us)?” she said.
The hospital chief then urged the public to support medical workers amid the health crisis rather than discriminate against them.
“Pagod na pagod na din kami, ang kailangan lang namin suporta, tulong, kooperasyon. ‘Wag naman sana dagdagan pa yung alalalahanin namin, ‘yung dinadala namin na kami ay aapihin, lalaitin, tulungan na lang kami. (We’re so tired. What we need us help, support, cooperation. Please do not anymore add to our burden. Stop bashing us and maltreating us. Just help us),” said Evangelista.
Earlier on Sunday, the Department of Health (DOH) denounced the reports of discrimination and harassment against health care workers amid the COVID-19 scare.
The DOH said that it is receiving reports of some health workers being attacked physically, including “being thrown bleach and splashed with chlorine.”
The Department added that there were also reports that some health workers are denied access to basic services such as transportation, laundry, blocked and fined in checkpoints, and being “evicted from their homes.”
“We denounce the acts of physical assault, harassment, and discrimination committed against our fellow health care workers. These acts cannot be tolerated,” the DOH said in a statement.
“We appeal to the public to extend understanding and compassion to our health care workers. Our health care workers have responded to our country’s need, with dedication, courage, and selflessness. This is not the time for us to turn our backs on them,” it added.
The DOH assured the public that health care workers take extra precaution to ensure infection prevention and control.
“Health care workers who are PUIs (persons under investigation) and PUMs (persons under monitoring) are following protocol, taking steps to isolate themselves even from their loved ones,” it said.
The DOH said that it is now investigating the reported harassments and vowed to hold perpetrators liable.
“We support our counterparts at the Philippine National Police, Department of Transportation, Department of Interior and Local Government, as well as LGUs (local government units), whose personnel we expect and hope to be the first line of defense in protecting our health care workers and keeping them safe from harm and discrimination,” the DOH said.