The Department of Health (DOH) should respond to the call for emergency hiring and request for additional support that hospital associations have asked from the government instead of slapping them with notices of offense, Senator Risa Hontiveros said.
“Our hospitals need the Health Department’s support, not threats. They have time and time again expressed exactly what they need, but have been ignored,” Hontiveros said in a statement on Tuesday, April 20.
“Ano ba ang problema, at kailan aaminin ng DOH na meron (pangangailangan) (What’s DOH problem, and when are they going to recognize their needs)?” she asked.
Hontiveros is among the senators who supported the calls of hospital associations for the DOH to begin augmenting the healthcare workforce through emergency mass hiring of nurses as hospitals remain full due to the spike in COVID-19 cases.
The senator said DOH should treat private hospitals as partners and should support their call for private hospitals to increase capacity.
Citing the statement of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc.(PHAPI), Hontiveros said it is because of human resource shortage, not limited bed capacities, that hospitals remain overwhelmed.
“Mass hiring of nurses will ensure that more people are attended to. This will also give time for health workers who have been battling in the trenches to rest, re-energize and up their immune systems. They aren’t superhuman after all,” she said.
Hontiveros said the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) should pay COVID-19 reimbursements to hospitals as some them refused to treat COVID-19 patients because of the state health insurance agency’s non-payment.
She also said the DOH should spend its budget wisely and efficiently, like the P13.5-billion budget for healthcare workers’ benefits and protection under the Bayanihan 2.
The lawmaker pointed out one of the reasons why health workers are averse to working in COVID-19 wards is the lack of protection and the low and delayed pay.
“The resources are in the hands of the DOH. What have they been doing with them after all this time? They should immediately pay what is due to a health worker already and use the money to pay for consistent testing and free protective gear,” Hontiveros said.
She also said the DOH should have a massive roll-out of all benefits for health workers, to prove to health workers that they can be trusted with their lives and livelihood.
“If we keep on breaking our promises to our healthcare workers, it will cost us all our lives,” Hontiveros emphasized.