‘Let’s not discriminate vs. fellow Filipinos,’ says Gordon, as Red Cross rescues nurse infected with COVID-19

Published August 10, 2020, 3:19 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Richard J. Gordon today called for defined policies for local government units (LGUs) on how to respond to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections.

Senator Richard Gordon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Gordon made the call after the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) where he is chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), rescued a COVID-19 positive nurse who was kicked out of her boarding house and seen roaming the streets of Makati.

The nurse was identified only as ‘’Gem.’’

“Ito ay storya ng discrimination. ‘Wag n’yong gagawing ito sa kapwa natin Pilipino… Lahat ng tao, dapat tinutulungan natin. Mukhang mali ang polisiya ng gobyerno. Isang nurse na magagamit natin sa paglaban sa COVID, lumalabas, walang policy ang gobyerno. ‘Di nate-train ang barangay para alam nila kung ano ang gagawin ‘pag may ganyang kaso,” he said. (This is a story of discrimination. Don’t do this to a fellow Filipino. We should help every person. Government policies seem wrong. There appears no policy in treating nurses who are our frontliners in the fight against COVID-19. We don’t train our barangay officers on how to approach problems like this.)

Gordon pointed out that there are facilities where LGUs could turn over residents who tested positive to the disease, and LGUs, down to the barangay level, should be trained on the proper protocols for the procedure.

“Kaya may isolation ward tayong ginagawa. Di naman natin pwede ikalat ang mga tulad ni Gem sa kalye. Yung mga landlady, hindi sila dapat magpaalis ng tao,” he said. (That is why we made isolation wards. It is not right to allow the likes of Gem roam around the street. Landlords should not simply evict their tenants.)

The PRC rescued “Gem,” a customer care representative nurse under a health maintenance organization, who was told to vacate her room within the day after informing her landlady this month that she had contracted the virus.

‘’Gem’’ quoted her landlady in her text that she (Gem) should leave her room the following day.

The nurse said she informed her family in Batangas, but they said they could not come and get her because it was already late. She left her boarding house at around 9 p.m. and looked for temporary shelter.

“Nung naghahanap po ako ng matutuluyan ko, wala po akong makita sa Makati. Hanggang dun po ako nakarating sa Pasay, dun po ako naka-check in,” she said. (I could not find an alternative living quarter in Makati. I went to and later checked in in Pasay city.)

Gem said her family, meantime, told her she should have negative test results before she could return home. She then went to the health center of Barangay Olympia in Makati to seek help.

“Nung pumunta po ako, ang sabi sa ‘kin, sarado raw ang barangay health center… Ang sabi po sa ‘kin, ‘Sinasabi ko sa’yo, di ka matutulungan dito.’ May binigay sa ‘kin na contact number. Landline po, kaya di ko po ma-contact,” she said. (When I went to the health center, I was told that it was closed. I was told that they could not help me. Somebody gave me a contact number. It was a landline but I could not contact it.)

Gem said she was eventually referred to the Red Cross through a friend.

The nurse was found sitting on the gutter along J.P. Rizal street in Makati, according to Zenaida Beltejar, consultant of the PRC’s Welfare services.

“Nanlulumo ako nung nakita ko talaga. Nandun siya sa gutter nakaupo. Naiyak talaga ako nun – ang nurse na nag-COVID positive ganun ang treatment natin. Imagine, nangyayari pala ito, ilang nurse dyan ang nasa kalye ngayon,” Beltejar said.  (I was depressed when I saw her. She was sitting at a gutter. I cried….how they treated a nurse infected with COVID-19. Imagine, this is how Gem was treated. How many nurses infected with the virus are on the streets?)  

As of August 3, there have been 5,153 health workers with COVID-19 in the Philippines. Of those, 422 are still in hospitals or under home quarantine.