Press Release
April 20, 2021

Hontiveros to DOH: Emergency hiring, support for hospitals needed, not threats

Senator Risa Hontiveros has supported the calls of hospital associations for the Department of Health (DOH) to begin augmenting the healthcare workforce through emergency mass hiring of nurses as hospitals remain full due to the spike in COVID-19 cases.

Hontiveros said the DOH should treat private hospitals as partners and should support their call for private hospitals to increase capacity through the mass hiring of nurses after the Health Department released written warnings to them. The senator cited the statement of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. that it is because of a human resource shortage, not limited bed capacities, that hospitals remain overwhelmed.

"Our hospitals need the Health Department's support, not threats. They have time and time again expressed exactly what they need, but have been ignored. Ano ba ang problema, at kailan aaminin ng DOH na meron?," she said.

"Mass hiring of nurses will ensure that more people are attended to. This will also give time for health workers who have been battling in the trenches to rest, re-energize and up their immune systems. They aren't superhuman after all," she said.

Hontiveros urged the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHILHEALTH) to pay COVID-19 reimbursements to hospitals. She said some hospitals refused to treat COVID-19 patients because of PHILHEALTH's non-payment.

Hontiveros also said that the DOH should not hold back on utilizing wisely and efficiently the budget it has at its disposal like the P13.5 billion budget for healthcare workers' benefits and protection under Bayanihan 2. She said one of the reasons why health workers might be averse to working in COVID-19 wards is the lack of protection and the low and delayed pay.

"The resources are in the hands of the DOH. What have they been doing with them after all this time? They should immediately pay what is due to our health workers already and use the money to pay for consistent testing and free protective gear. The DOH should have a massive roll-out of all benefits for health workers, to prove to health workers that they can be trusted with their lives and livelihood, " she said.

"Babad na tayo sa utang sa mga ospital at health workers. Ang bayaran ng utang hindi dinadaan sa utang na loob. If we keep on breaking our promises to our healthcare workers, it will cost us all our lives," Hontiveros concluded.

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