Nurses group calls for benefits for all COVID-infected frontliners

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    AN organization of nurses yesterday appealed to the Department of Health to give compensation to all healthcare workers infected with the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and not just to those who have died and those with severe cases of COVID.

    The Filipino Nurses United said other healthcare workers serving as medical frontliners also need the financial help.

    “We are disappointed because what we want is all healthcare workers infected by COVID-19 should get P100,000 regardless of their (disease) stage,” said FNU secretary general Jocelyn Andamo.

    She said those with mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms are unable to go to work as they have to undergo quarantine procedures.

    “Several nurses didn’t receive pay in ‘no work, no pay’ scheme, especially in the private sector,” she said.

    Add to this, she said, is the psychological stress brought by the disease to them and their families.

    The statement comes a day after the deadline given by President Duterte to the DOH to pay the families of those who died from COVID-19 as well as those who suffered severe cases of the disease.

    Late Tuesday, the DOH reported that all 19 checks for the health workers, who contracted severe COVID-19, have been received by the beneficiaries.

    The number is down from the initial list of 79 healthcare workers entitled to P100,000 cash aid. The reduction in number, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, came after 60 were delisted as beneficiaries as they were found to be non-severe cases of COVID-19.

    “When we asked for their medical abstracts, it showed that their cases weren’t classified as severe. Some are just mild or moderate. Therefore, we had to delist them,” said Vergeire in a virtual media briefing on Tuesday.

    As for those who died from COVID-19, the DOH reported that 30 out of the 32 families qualified for the P1 million cash benefit have received their checks.

    The DOH, meanwhile, said it is still coordinating with the heirs of the remaining two fallen healthcare workers regarding the transfer of the government assistance as they are based in the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

    Under the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act,” public and private healthcare workers, who contract severe COVID-19 infection while in the line of duty, are entitled to a P100,000 compensation while the family of any health worker, who may die while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, shall get a P1 million cash assistance.

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque last week said an angry and frustrated President Duterte ordered the release, by June 9, of the cash benefits to frontliners.

    Yesterday, he said the President was “enraged” and “pissed” when he learned last week that the financial benefits had not been given.

    “He could not understand why the health workers had to wait this long. So, having said that, the President did say that heads should roll, and I am wondering now what actually will happen. It’s something that I need to talk to him about, about his early instruction that heads should roll because this was unacceptable,” he said.

    Roque also said the government would verify the list of healthcare workers who fell severely ill due to COVID-19, finding it difficult to believe that only 20 health workers had fallen sick while caring for the coronavirus-infected patients. – With Jocelyn Montemayor