Address nurse shortage, burnout in Cebu
We appeal to government officials to urgently address the severe problem of overworked nurses in Cebu City’s hospitals, which are overburdened by the overflow of COVID-19 patients.
We call for the mass hiring of nurses with a minimum entry salary of P32,000, and just benefits including hazard pay, adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and safe nurse-to-patient ratio, as necessary solutions to solve the severe shortage and understaffing of nurses in hospitals.
The government should hire nurses to fill up vacant positions and add more positions for nurses. Additional nurses will meet the safe nurse-to-patient ratio so that nurses do not have to work more than eight hours a day, and they can have enough rest and regain strength to work the next day.
Job order workers and contractual workers also have to be regularized in order to be given benefits such as hazard pay, transportation, and food and accommodation allowances.
We also call on the government to mandate private hospitals to provide their nurses with a minimum basic salary of P32,000 by enacting two important bills: House Bill No. 3478 on the minimum basic salary of nurses, and HB 5184 or the Magna Carta of Private Health Workers. Immediate enactment of these bills would entice nurses to join the health workforce and serve their countrymen, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nurses who are working in hospitals are exhausted, burned out, afraid of getting the virus; many are thinking of resigning.
We call on the Department of Health to conduct mass testing of all nurses and health workers who are highly exposed to COVID-19 patients in hospitals. They must be tested even if they are asymptomatic, in order to identify those who are infected and have to be put on isolation so as not to pose risk to others. To make this possible, the government must provide adequate test kits for frontline health workers.
In addition, all nurses taking care of COVID-19 suspect or confirmed patients must be provided a complete set of PPE. The lack of PPE in the workplace puts nurses at risk of being infected with the virus. With adequate PPE, nurses will not be afraid of getting the virus and will continue to serve the people.
Jennifer Amaro, RN, Cebu coordinator, Filipino Nurses United-Cebu Chapter
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