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Infant mill halted amid infections

Gabbie Parlade

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Not only industrial plants but also the fabled baby factory or the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital were shut due to the adverse impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

On Friday, the busiest maternity hospital in the world announced it had temporarily halted its operations after some healthcare workers of the hospital tested positive for COVID-19.

“We wish to inform the public, particularly patients who are seeking admission, that as of today, 23 October, we are halting admission in the OB-GYN, or obstetrician-gynecologist department, where babies are delivered,” Fabella spokesperson Dr. Diana Rose Cajipe said.

Operations were also suspended in the hospital’s outpatient, laboratory, X-ray and ultrasound departments among others.

Cajipe said all patients who have scheduled medical treatment yesterday were attended to but the hospital did not make any new admissions.

Initially, seven doctors and one nurse tested positive which prompted the hospital’s management to conduct contact tracing and testing.

Pregnant moms vulnerable
Disinfection operations were also ordered to ensure the safety of individuals using the hospital’s services.

The Department of Health (DoH) earlier tagged pregnant mothers among individuals most vulnerable in catching the disease.

Meanwhile, Cajipe said the hospital has been operating beyond capacity since the pandemic started.

Admissions reached 603 patients against a full capacity of 408 patients. Cajipe said the highest increase was seen among birthing mothers who had 64 deliveries in a day.

“Our director coordinated with health agencies to have most of our employees tested immediately and hopefully the results will come out immediately,” she said.

In previous months, the DoH warned there may be a rise in the number of population after the pandemic as millions of unexpected pregnancies caused by the disruption in family planning services and the lockdowns that kept couples inside their homes.

Serve country first
The call for healthcare workers to stay and work in the country have also been renewed amid a reported shortage of hospital staff.

This was the appeal of Philippine General Hospital (PGH) spokesperson Dr. Jonas del Rosario said as he cited the need to augment hospital staff amid an increase in patients.

“We really need doctors, we hope that they’ll stay for at least a year or two years,” Del Rosario added.

“For now, please don’t go leave yet, you are needed in this country, you are needed by the hospitals,” he added.

He said most healthcare workers are now discouraged to apply for work out of fear of contracting the virus. Medical practitioners who have not yet taken their licensure exams are now being considered as an augmentation force.

Del Rosario noted the low salary grade in which the government classifies healthcare workers.

There is a big difference in the salary offered in the country compared to those abroad which is the reason for most of them to look for work overseas.

“They said here, if you’re just starting off (as a medical practitioner), it will be hard to support your family that’s why many are planning to leave,” he said.)

He said the number will keep decreasing further should the government fully lift the ban on allowing medical workers to leave for their job offers abroad.

“Salary is really a big thing, with others even saying the salary given by the government feels like an insult as it is really low,” he said.

Low pay a problem
Although there are programs on the temporary hiring of health professionals for six months, he said most of them have chosen not to renew their contract due to low compensation.

Even so, Del Rosario urged healthcare workers to for now let their nationalism prevail as the public as well as many facilities in the country need them.

“We are appealing especially during the pandemic to let your sense of nationalism prevail because now we are fighting in a war,” he said.

In August, the Filipino Nurses United had called for the government to lift the deployment ban as they explained the government has no right to limit their decision especially with better offers that can uplift the lives of family members.

At present, the Do0H has 11,934 existing slots for the emergency hiring of healthcare workers in which so far only 9,692 have been hired among more than 300 facilities.

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