MANILA - The Philippine Red Cross rescued a COVID-19 positive nurse who was kicked out of her boarding house and seen roaming the streets of Makati, its officials said Sunday.
"Gem," a customer care representative nurse under a health maintenance organization, said she informed her landlady last Sunday that she had contracted the virus.
She was then told to leave her room before the next day.
"Ang sabi po sa'kin sa text, hanggat maaari, bago mag-umaga ay wala ka na rito," Gem told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(I was told through text message to leave before morning.)
The nurse said she informed her family in Batangas, but they said they could not come and get her because it was already late.
She left her boarding house at around 9 p.m. and looked for temporary shelter, she said.
"Nung naghahanap po ako ng matutuluyan ko, wala po akong makita sa Makati. Hanggang dun po ako nakarating sa Pasay, dun po ako naka-check in," she said.
(I was looking for a place to stay, I couldn't find any in Makati. I reached Pasay, that's where I checked in.)
Gem said her family, meantime, told her she should have negative test results before she could return home.
She then went to the health center of Barangay Olympia in Makati to seek help.
"Nung pumunta po ako, ang sabi sa 'kin, sarado raw ang barangay health center... Ang sabi po sa 'kin, 'Sinasabi ko sa'yo, di ka matutulungan dito.' May binigay sa 'kin na contact number. Landline po, kaya di ko po ma-contact," she said.
(I was told the barangay health center is closed. They said they could not help me. I was given a contact number, but it was a landline so I can't reach it.)
Gem said she was eventually referred to the Red Cross through a friend.
The nurse was found sitting on the gutter along Southville Makati corner JP Rizal, according to Zenaida Beltejar, consultant of Philippine Red Cross Welfare services.
"Nanlulumo ako nung nakita ko talaga. Nandun siya sa gutter nakaupo. Naiyak talaga ako nun - ang nurse na nag-COVID positive ganun ang treatment natin," Beltejar said.
(I was depressed to see her sitting on the gutter. I cried because that's how we treat a nurse who contacted the virus.)
"Imagine, nangyayari pala ito, ilang nurse dyan ang nasa kalye ngayon."
(Imagine, this is happening, how many nurses are in the streets?)
Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the PRC, said he would report the incident to government officials and urge them to put in place policies currently lacking in local governments.
"Ito ay storya ng discrimination. 'Wag n'yong gagawing ito sa kapwa natin Pilipino... Lahat ng tao, dapat tinutulungan natin," Gordon said.
(This is a story of discrimination. Don't do this to our fellow Filipinos... We should help all people.)
"Mukhang mali ang polisiya ng gobyerno. Isang nurse na magagamit natin sa paglaban sa COVID, lumalabas, walang policy ang gobyerno. 'Di nate-train ang barangay para alam nila kung ano ang gagawin 'pag may ganyang kaso," he said.
(It seems government policy is wrong. We have a nurse who can help us fight COVID. It shows there's no government policy. Village officials aren't trained so that they know what to do in these cases.)
"Kaya may isolation ward tayong ginagawa. Di naman natin pwede ikalat ang mga tulad ni Gem sa kalye. Yung mga landlady, hindi sila dapat magpaalis ng tao."
(That's why we have an isolation ward. We can't leave others like Gem in the streets. Landladies should not kick out their tenants.)
In June, the House of Representatives passed on final reading a measure prohibiting discrimination against COVID-19 patients and those suspected of carrying the disease, including frontliners. A similar measure was filed at the Senate.
Local governments such as Manila and Pasay have passed similar ordinances.
As of August 3, there have been 5,153 health workers with COVID-19 in the Philippines. Of those, 422 are still in hospitals or under home quarantine.