Shelters open for health workers, street dwellers, OFWs

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    The Office of the Vice President offered a dorm in Cubao for health workers. It has showers, bedding and is disinfected as needed. (Photo from the OVP)

    A DORMITORY has opened in Cubao, Quezon City that will house health workers, medical professionals, and others who are at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

    Entrance to the dorm for healthcare workers in Cubao.

    The dormitory was made possible through the help of the partners of the anti-poverty program of the Office of the Vice President, namely: Angat Buhay, particularly the Rotary Club of San Juan del Monte, the Spouses of Rotary Club of San Juan North, and Matrix Appliances PH.

    “Sa pagsisimula ng inisiyatibong ito, umaasa kami na makapagbigay ng kahit kaunting ginhawa para sa ating mga magigiting na frontliners na walang sawa sa paglilingkod sa ating mga kababayan (At the start of this initiative, we’re hoping to give even a small relief to our brave frontliners who are unwavering in serving our citizens),” Vice President Leni Robredo said in a Facebook post.

    Robredo said the services will be on a “first come, first served” basis because of the limited space and the need to observe physical distancing. The dormitory, which has eight bedrooms and comfort rooms, can accommodate a total of 14 people.

    Shower rooms are available at the dorm which will be occupied on a “first come, first served” basis.

    The initiative was made in response to requests received by the OVP amid its ongoing assistance drive.

    Those who want to have a room reserve will have to provide their full name, gender, designation, hospital or organization, work shift, current home address and contact details by emailing it to [email protected] or sending a message to 09985917408.

     LIMITED DUTY HOURS

     The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday called on hospital management to consider limiting to six to eight hours the working hours of health workers to allow them to get more rest.

    In a press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire called on employers to allow their health workers to recuperate from the rigors of attending to COVID-19 cases and other patients.

    “The DOH calls on private hospitals to limit the working hours of health personnel to six to eight hours only,” Vergeire said, adding: “This is so that they will be given enough time to rest and avoid the possibility of their immune system from weakening, thus making them vulnerable to diseases.”

    Aside from giving them enough time to rest and recuperate, the health official said it is also imperative for hospital owners to provide enough personal protective equipment to health workers.

    “Let us follow the law on occupational safety and health standards for the welfare of our hospitals and healthcare workers,” said Vergeire.

    She also urged hospital managements to provide the adequate hazard pays to health personnel.  “There should be rightful compensation for their health care workers such as a COVID-19 special risk allowance,” said Vergeire.

    Similarly, the DOH appealed to local government units to consider providing temporary accommodation to health workers in their respective jurisdictions during the period of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

    Vergeire said having temporary accommodation in the areas near their workplaces will spare them from having to travel to and from their residences.

    “This way, our health workers can already get some rest instead of still having to go home, especially if they come from far flung areas,” she said.

    In addition, she said having them at a separate shelter will help avoid health workers transmitting the virus on their way home and to their own families.

     OFW SHELTERS

     Aside from transportation assistance, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is also set to provide temporary shelter to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who will return home during the period of the enhanced lockdown, which will end on April 12.

    Department Order (DO) No. 211-2020 from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) mandates the OWWA to provide hotel accommodation assistance to returning OFWs when necessary.

    “This DO shall cover distressed arriving land-based and sea-based OFW-repatriates during the period of implementation of the enhanced community quarantine over the entire Luzon from 17 March 2020 until 12 April 2020 or until the lifting of the social distancing measures in the entire Luzon,” said the labor department.

    It said the assistance is in accordance with Resolution No. 14 of the Inter Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID), which states that accommodation establishments, such as hotels, are permitted to accept distressed land-based and sea-based Filipino workers during the period of the lockdown period.

    Eligible to avail of the hotel accommodation are all distressed sea-based and land-based OFWs, who are bound for their residences outside of the National Capital Region (NCR).

    It said that OWWA is mandated to identify the partner hotel or any accommodation establishment, where distressed OFWs shall be temporarily sheltered.

    On the other hand, OFWs who opt to directly book a hotel accommodation on their own account may do so, provided that they request for a Certificate of Eligibility from OWWA.

    DOLE also said that all OFWs that are eligible as beneficiaries shall be provided with transportation assistance.

    To avail of the assistance, returning OFWs must present proof of overseas employment or Overseas Employment Certificate, copy of passport or travel document, and Certification as OFW Repatriates from the OWWA Repatriation and Assistance Division (RAD).

     FOR THE HOMELESS

    Responding to the call of the Catholic Church, parochial schools in the Archdiocese of Manila are set to open their doors to homeless and street dwellers faced by the COVID-19 outbreak threat.

    Manila Archdiocese Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo thanked the administrators of the five members of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila Educational System (RCAM-ES) schools.

    “We laud this gesture of our school directors to provide quarters to the homeless and street dwellers, and health workers where they can be safe and secure,” Pabillo said.

    Among the parochial schools which who will open their facilities as temporary shelters to the homeless and street dwellers are Malate Catholic School, Espiritu Santo Parochial Schools, and Holy Trinity Academy.

    Similarly, Paco Catholic School is set to accommodate the homeless families under the care of Fr. Luke Mortgart, while the Nazarene Catholic School will be accommodating health workers from the San Lazaro Hospital.

    The Manila prelate asked Fr. Flavie Villanueva of the Arnold Janssen KALINGA Center to start coordinating the transfer of the homeless to the schools

    He said the Kalinga Center and its volunteers will be the ones to provide for the basic needs of those who are taking shelter at the said schools. – With Gerard Naval