Lack of benefits, exhaustion drive health workers to quit amid COVID-19 pandemic

Published September 7, 2021, 1:40 PM

by Analou de Vera


As the Philippines scrambles again to suppress the rise in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, some health workers have decided to quit their jobs because of the non-payment of their benefits and exhaustion due to the worsening COVID-19 situation in the country.

In a private hospital in Metro Manila, some of its resident doctors did not report for duty for two days already, said Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) President Dr. Maricar Limpin in an interview with CNN Philippines on Monday, Sept. 6.

“Maraming nag-resign. Actually, we’ve heard nitong nakaraang araw na may mga doktor na rin na tumigil na. Lalong-lalo na yung aming mga residente (Many have already resigned. Actually, we’ve heard recently that there are doctors who didn’t show up for work. Especially resident doctors),” she said.

“I’m not going to say the name of the hospital pero yung lahat ng mga bata nila na residente hindi nag-report for duty for the past two days na (but almost all of their resident doctors have not reported for duty for the past two days already),” she added.

This kind of scenario is a “cause for concern,” said Limpin.

“Ang narinig namin ay dahil nga hindi sila nakakatanggap ng benepisyo na supposedly na dapat natatanggap nila (What we have heard is that it is because they are not receiving the benefits that they are supposed to be receiving),” she said.

Meanwhile, some healthcare workers at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City also resigned from their post due to better opportunities abroad, NKTI Executive Director Dr. Rose Marie Rosete-Liquete told reporters on Tuesday, Sept. 7.

“They have to look for greener pastures. Totoo iyon. Syempre, mas mataas naman talaga ang sweldo abroad (That’s true. Of course, the salary is really higher abroad),” she said.

Some healthcare workers at San Lazaro Hospital (SLH) in Manila also quit their jobs due to exhaustion and job opportunities overseas, said SLH Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Unit Head Dr. Rontgene Solante.

Solante, however, said that health workers at SLH were able to receive their benefits.

“Sa benefits naman, mukhang walang issue kami sa benefits. Ang nangyari lang yung iba gustong magpahinga nalang, yung iba they resigned because they were accepted abroad. Yun yung mga issues (As for the benefits, it looks like we have no issue with it. What was happening was that some just wanted to rest, others resigned because they were accepted abroad. Those are the issues),” he also told reporters also on Tuesday.

Family members of some health workers are also encouraging them to quit for their safety, said Liquete.

“Nitong may COVID, of course, may mga natatakot din na pinagre-resign ng kanilang pamilya (Amid COVID, of course, there are also those who are afraid and their families are encouraging them to resign),” she said.

COVID-19 among healthcare workers

Some healthcare workers are also being infected with the viral illness, said Limpin.

“May mga hospital na nagreport na marami sa kanilang mga doktor ay nagkakasakit na rin. And therefore, itong mga doktor na ito that means hindi (sila) makakareport sa duty and they will be placed on quarantine. Syempre lahat din ng mga tao na na-exposed doon sa mga taong ito, will have to be placed also on quarantine (Some hospitals reported that many of their doctors are getting sick as well. And therefore, they will not be able to report for duty and they will be placed on quarantine. Of course, all the people who have been exposed to them will have to be placed also on quarantine),” she said.

“So, that actually depletes the number of health workers that we have in the hospitals. Idagdag pa natin dyan yung mga nag-resign (Plus those who have resigned),” she added.

In NKTI at least 40 healthcare workers are currently on quarantine, said Liquete.

“May mga health workers na din kaming nagpa-positive (We also have health workers who are already positive)… Nurses, doctors, medtechs, nursing attendants,” she said.

Based on the Department of Health’s (DOH) data, a total of 23,814 healthcare workers tested positive for COVID-19 as of Sept. 4. Of this figure, 23,336 have already recovered, 103 died, while 375 are active cases.

Additional beds for COVID-19 patients?

Hospitals are also not able to follow the Department of Health’s (DOH) directive to increase bed allocation for COVID-19 patients due to the limited number of medical workers, said Solante.

“The manpower is really an important factor. We can’t really expand our bed capacity because of the limited healthcare workers. Maraming healthcare workers nagkakasakit din (Many healthcare workers also get sick),” he said.

Liquete also shared the same view with regards to this matter.

“Maski na sabihin mo na magdagdag ng bed or tent, hindi na pwede at hindi na kaya….It is not a matter of space iyan. We need healthcare workers to take care of the patients (Even if you say to add a bed or tent, it is no longer possible… It is not a matter of space. We need healthcare workers to take care of the patients),” she said.

Limited number of job takers

Solante also shared that they also posted that they are in need of additional healthcare workers. However, there are only a few applicants.

“Ang nangyayari ngayon, nago-open kami ng hiring pero ang problema wala namang masyadong naga-apply. Marami kaming plantilla for the nurses, ang nangyari lang limited talaga ang naga-apply (What is happening now, we are posting job hirings but the problem is that not many people are applying. We have slots for the nurses but only a limited number of people are applying),” he said.

“Most likely baka natatakot na din sila magtrabaho sa ospital because of what is happening now. I think that is a normal reaction siguro. (Most likely they are also afraid to work in the hospital because of what is happening now. I think that is a normal reaction) That’s the problem, even in other hospitals,” he added.

The healthcare workers recently appealed to the national government to give their long-delayed benefits and urged them to further improve its response against the pandemic.