Few takers for Cebu’s hospital hiring drive

John Sitchon
Few takers for Cebu’s hospital hiring drive

FRONTLINERS. Cebu Doctor’s Hospital medical personnel bring in a patient.

John Sitchon/Rappler

The dearth of health workers affects hospitals' capacity to accept patients, even when there are enough beds

The whole province of Cebu is fighting another wave of the pandemic with less hands as few medical professionals have responded to the new hiring drive for hospital staff.

“Few takers,” Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief of the city’s Emergency Operations Center, told Rappler on Thursday, August 5. 

“Most of our nurses are working in BPOs with higher salaries, ” he said, also noting less strenuous work conditions and the lack of hazards.

In an earlier Rappler report, Garganera saidd that DOH sent additional medical personnel to help with the hospitals, but many eventually resigned.

The dearth of health workers has affected hospitals’ capacity to accept patients, even when there are enough beds. 

In Mandaue City, nurses are fainting from overwork.

Mandaue City Hospital head nurse Merryl Maunes told Rappler in a phone interview that they are currently running low on nurses as more patients are admitted to the city hospital.

“Nagsurge man sa patients unya nakulangan jud ta ug nurses. Okay ra man ta to pero nidaghan jud ang patients,” she said. (There was a surge of patients and we ran low on nurses. It was fine at the start but there are just more patients now)

“Naa mi instances where malipong ang among nurses sa sigeg monitor sa patients unya makuyapan ug dili kakaon tungod sa kabusy,” said Maunes. (There are instances where our nurses would faint from always monitoring our patients and some would pass out because they weren’t able to eat since they were busy.)

In July, the city government, headed by Acting Mayor Michael Rama, announced that it would provide cash incentives to some 350 nurses in Cebu City’s private hospitals – a similar strategy done in 2020.

Maunes said the city hospital has already requested 10 additional medical personnel from both the DOH and the city government. 

The city government has been supporting the nurses by providing them with essentials like food, she added. 

“We just need additional manpower. That’s our main priority need,” added the head nurse.

In neigboring Lapu-Lapu City, Mayor Junard “Ahong ” Chan announced in a press statement on Monday, August 2, that his city would be hiring 160 more nurses for its hospitals.

Since the start of the pandemic, Cebu’s nurses have struggled with never-ending work, paired with the fear of COVID-19 infection. (READ: Cebu’s COVID-19 personnel woes worsen as medical workers fall ill)

Are oxygen tanks being hoarded?

While there have been reports of citizens crowding pharmacies to purchase oxygen tanks in Cebu, Garganera said that the hoarding of these tanks was unlikely.

“Hoarding? I don’t think so. When these gas companies were asked, they were transparent about their daily production and also the volume of their deliveries to the different medical facilities,” he said. 

According to some of Cebu’s pharmacy store workers, oxygen tanks are in “steady supply” despite the increasing demand.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in July that the national government is in talks with manufacturers so it could buy more tanks.

In an advisory on Wednesday, August 4, Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) chief Dr. Jaime Bernadas warned the public about the inappropriate use of medical grade oxygen.

“The inappropriate use of medical grade oxygen without supervision can lead to oxygen toxicity due to breathing in too much or unregulated amount of oxygen,” said Bernadas.

“As such, the public is strongly advised not to purchase medical grade oxygen for home use,” he added. –