Close to 600 Filipino doctors and nurses have volunteered to support the fight against COVID-19, answering the call of the Department of Health for help as the number of cases in the country continues to rise.
Health Undersecretary said some 593 people had signed up to be assigned in the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, the Jose M. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City and the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City, which the DOH has designated for COVID-19 patients.
Vergeire said volunteer health workers would go on a “two-weeks-on, two-weeks-off” schedule because frontliners must go on two weeks of quarantine after treating COVID-19 patients.
The DOH, which was roundly criticized for offering the volunteers P500 a day, apologized to them and promised the rate would be increased.
“We assure everyone that at this point, the proposed Health Care Warriors Benefit Package is a provsional one,” a DOH statement said.
Senator Christopher Go appealed to the DOH and the Department of Budget and Management to compensate the volunteers properly, noting that they are professionals and highly-skilled. “And they will be risking their lives here,” he said.
“Compensation is not the only issue here. The best way to help the health sector respond to this crisis is by sufficiently providing them with the tools and protection needed to do their job,” Go added.
Rep. Eric Go Yap said lawmakers were willing to allot payment for the volunteer health workers equivalent to the regular salary of their counterparts.
Volunteer doctors should be hired and paid at least P50,000 a month, which is the entry-level salary grade for government-hired physicians, while nurses should receive at least P22,000, Dr. Geneve Reyes, secretary-general of Health Action for Human Rights said.
She also said they should also be paid for the 14 days of quarantine after their tour of duty.
On Saturday, an 11th doctor, Dr. Helen Tudtud, a pathologist in Cebu City, died due to COVID-19.
“I lost a mom. Since I was young she was always my Mommy Helen. She has always been a second mom to me,” her nephew Vincent Thomas Evangelista said in a post on Facebook.
“Mommy Helen was one of the most generous people I know. She would always think of other people. She would always be the one who would be first to help when any of us was in need. To say that she was caring was an understatement,” he added.
On Saturday at 4 p.m., the Department of Health said the country’s total COVID-cases reached 1,075 as more testing is being done.
The death toll is at 68 while total recoveries numbered 35.
As of Saturday, the DOH has tested a total of 2,686 individuals. Of these, 920 have tested negative and 667 have pending results.