San Lazaro Hospital denies 'understaffing,' assures nurses of safety measures

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 12 2020 04:14 PM

Medical workers monitor the Pediatric Infectious Disease Critical Care Unit in San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, where the first cases of COVID-19 in the country were admitted. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The San Lazaro Hospital on Sunday assured its staff that it values their "safety and welfare" after its nurses said they might quit due to work overload.

The hospital, which took the country's first COVID-19 cases, denied it was "understaffing" as it currently has an occupancy rate of 20 percent, and said it was observing the standard nurse to patient ratio of 1:1, sometimes even at 2:1 in intensive care areas.

Psychosocial and debriefing sessions for medical workers are also "regularly conducted" while rotations of assignments in departments are done every 6 months for "change of clinical work environment," the hospital said in a statement.

"With the almost the same number of staff that took care of patients at even 80-100 percent occupancy rate prior to the pandemic (during dengue, leptospirosis, and measles outbreak), management DON’T see reasons or basis for their claim of understaffing," it said. 

"We would like to assure the hospital staff that their safety and welfare is an important concern of the hospital management in the fight against COVID-19."

The hospital has also approved the work schedule proposed by its nursing division's staff and supervisors that "allows less days of work in a week for them to have more rest days," it added.

It said it was "compliant" in terms of salaries and benefits, and has "sufficient" supplies of personal protective equipment (PPEs).

"Moreover, we follow the guidelines on the appropriate and proper use of PPEs depending on the health care workers’ risk exposure activity or procedures in the care of COVID19 patients," it said.

Reusing N95 masks is allowed under conditions of the hospital's infection and control guidelines, it added.

The national referral for infectious disease said it has also been providing transportation and lodging for its staff.

"We acknowledged with utmost importance the dedication of our nursing staff all through the years of facing several outbreaks and epidemic," it said.

"We considered them important partners in the promotion of our mission and vision as the referral center of infectious diseases in the Philippines."

As of July 5, the Philippines has recorded 3,513 health workers to have been sick with COVID-19. A total of 2,643 of them have already recovered while 34 have died.

The country has so far logged 54,222 coronavirus cases, of whom 1,372 have died while 14,037 have recovered.