Front-line health workers at a Manila hospital run by the Order of Preachers, or Dominicans, have appealed for “adequate support” from the facility’s management.
Among the issues raised by the workers’ union of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Hospital is “conducive working conditions” for its front-line workers.
In a statement released on April 1, the union also appealed for the payment of salaries of workers who are under quarantine without deducting it from leave credits.
“Follow the national government’s appeal to continue to give the salary of those who cannot go to work due to extraordinary times,” read the workers’ statement.
The union also called on the hospital management to increase the “hazard pay” for those who continue to report for work and face the risk of COVID-19 infection.
In a statement issued by the hospital on April 1, Ferdinand Magkasi, head of its human resource department, said the financial condition of the hospital “is really tight.”
He said the pandemic and the lockdown “prevented patients to come to the hospital and led to the limited elective procedures in selected units.”
Magkasi said many hospital employees “are not able to report for work because of the absence of public transportation” due to the lockdown, resulting in income and cash flow problems.
He said that despite the financial problems, the hospital was able to release the full salary of all employees.
The hospital official said management has complied with the labor department’s advisories to pay the full salary of employees who filed leaves of absence.
“However, the ‘no work no pay scheme’ shall apply to employees who do not want to utilize their leave credits,” said Magkasi.
He cited the labor department’s advisory that indicated “leaves of absence during the community quarantine period shall be charged against the workers’ existing leave credits.”
He said if the leave credits are already exhausted, the hospital will allow the use of “other leave credits such as emergency leave and sick leave credits.”
Donell John Siazon, union president, said many of hospital workers are under a 14-day quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19 patients.
He said the workers were assigned to COVID-19 patients “without knowing the patients’ real condition” and “without using proper [personal protective equipment].”
“These nurses, aides, and employees … were rotated on duty in different wards and units, making it likely that they have had direct contact with their fellow health workers,” he said.
On March 22, the hospital announced that it would regulate admissions and postpone elective procedures due to the reduced number of staff.
It said that at least 530 of its staff, including doctors, nurses, and aides, were under quarantine.
Siazon said it is “moral and just” for the hospital to compensate the workers who were forced to self-quarantine because it was “a result of inefficient hospital guidelines and measures.”
He said that out of the 400 nurses employed at the hospital only 150 nurses have been reporting in three shifts daily.
Siazon is worried that if the government would extend the lockdown in the Philippine capital, those who are on forced to go on leave will not receive payments.
The union leader, meanwhile, expressed gratitude to the Dominican priests for allowing hospital workers to use a dormitory to rest.
The UST Hospital is handling 12 patients who tested positive with COVID-19 as of April 2, according to the Department of Health’s COVID-19 tracker.
At least 4,344 people out of the 6,321 people suspected of the disease have been tested and waiting for results.