AMID the rising number of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in Cebu, the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) Cebu chapter has acknowledged the lack of nurses in various hospitals.

However, the group said the public should not blame nurses for choosing a better work opportunity during the pandemic.

“Ang mga nurses, di baya pod ta kapugos, lagi, muingon nga understaffed, kay mahadlok baya pod na sila sa sitwasyon labi pa nga wa g’yod silay security of tenure,” Gina Fontanos, PNA Cebu chapter president, told SunStar Cebu on Tuesday, July 27, 2021.

(We cannot force our nurses to stay. Yes, we know there is a problem with understaffing, but our nurses also worry about their situation, especially if they do not have security of tenure.)

Earlier this week, reports that contractual nurses at the Cebu City Medical Center, which is run by the City Government, resigned after not being paid for several months circulated.

The City Government, through Acting Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, admitted that the salaries were delayed for four months pending the approval of the supplemental budget amounting to P4.45 billion.

Since the beginning of the year, a total of 44 nurses have tendered their resignation. Fourteen were considered casual employees, while 30 were job order employees.

In 2020, 21 nurses resigned from the hospital.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) 7 has announced that it is hiring registered nurses for job order positions.

Those hired will be given a three-month contract (renewable if the need arises) and will be deployed to different private hospitals within Metro Cebu.

They will receive a monthly salary of P33,575.

The PNA in Central Visayas, Fontanos said, had about 450 registered members last year. The number doesn’t include the nurses who have opted to work abroad or who have not registered with the association.

Fontanos said they have no data on how many nurses in Cebu are currently unemployed or how many hospitals are understaffed.

The PNA Cebu, as an organization, relies on reports and/or requests of their member nurses for help, she said.

Last year, the PNA, which also acts as a foundation, went all over Cebu to distribute donated alcohol and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for members, but his year the group is experiencing financial difficulties, she said.

While hospitals and the DOH 7 have provided nurses with PPE, better pay still eludes them, she said.

The group appealed to the public to take minimum health protocols set by health authorities and the government seriously.

“Sa tinuod lang, luoy baya kaayo ang mga nurses. Kami ang frontliners. Kung mahimo, stay at home g’yod (To be honest, our nurses are already tired. We are the frontliners. If you can, please just stay at home),” Fontanos said.

Central Visayas, based on the daily Covid bulletin of the DOH 7 on July 27, has 8,834 active cases.

Majority are in Cebu City (2,290), followed by Cebu Province (2,078), Bohol (1,577), Negros Oriental (1,067), Lapu-Lapu City (1,021), Mandaue City (749) and Siquijor (52).

Based on the DOH 7’s Covid-19 situationer, the utilization rate of intensive care unit beds in level 1 hospitals (or hospitals that offer minimum health services) is 36.80 percent, as of Monday, July 26.

A total of 58.10 percent of Covid ward beds and 55.90 percent of isolation beds in the region are also occupied. However, a critical care utilization rate within 60 percent is still considered safe.

The DOH 7 earlier said it was already enhancing its Covid response through reactivation and upgrading of temporary treatment and monitoring facilities, increasing bed capacity in hospitals, particularly those which are DOH-retained, and providing personnel augmentation in private hospitals.

The cities of Cebu and Mandaue have already reimposed the liquor ban and moved the curfew from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m. (WBS)