ASIDE from the salaries that they will receive from their mother units, medical workers from Cebu who will be deployed in the National Capital Region (NCR) and neighboring provinces will each receive incentives amounting to P70,000.
The Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (Opav), Cebu Provincial Government and Cebu City Government pledged to provide incentives as the first batch of 50 volunteer health workers left for Manila Wednesday, April 7, 2021.
For the next three months, they will augment the medical workforce battling a surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the NCR and in the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.
The first batch is composed of 35 nurses, 11 doctors and four medical technologists. They also brought with them 100 vials of remdesivir and 10 vials of tocilizumab donated by Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) and a second set of blood products from the Department of Health Central Visayas (DOH 7).
The blood donation consisted of 130 units of red blood cells, 40 units of fresh frozen plasma and 30 units of convalescent plasma. These were in addition to the 355 units of blood products sent earlier.
During the send-off ceremony Wednesday, Opav Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino said the financial rewards are secondary.
“I tell you, more than the monetary benefits that you will get from this cause, is that feeling of fulfillment, pride, and happiness that in the time of a national health emergency, you were there front and center serving your fellow Filipinos. This will be your story to the future generation,” Dino told the medical workers.
He announced that his office will provide each volunteer a cash incentive of P5,000 per month, or a total of P15,000 for three months.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia also promised another P15,000 incentive, or P5,000 per month for three months, as well as an additional P10,000 to be given upon their return to Cebu.
Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella pledged to give P10,000 per month, or a total of P30,000, to each medical worker.
Garcia said the Provincial Government will also provide a three-month supply of vitamins and a wearable air purifier to each volunteer.
“Be our anti-Covid-19 warrior to the NCR plus,” Garcia told the 50 volunteers.
Cebu City Councilor Raymond Garcia, chairman of the budget committee, said the City will allocate P3 million for the cash incentives.
A total of 100 medical workers are targeted to be deployed to NCR plus over the next three months.
The office of Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, chairman of the Senate committee on health, distributed watches to the medical workers.
Pay it forward
Garcia recalled that Cebu’s hospitals also had difficulty coping with the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases last year.
“This also happened to us last year. We only had a few Covid beds in all the hospitals here. I checked my figures and Dr. Jean confirmed it. (Only) 200. Why? Because at that time most of our private hospitals lacked nurses,” she said.
“Why? Because nurses would rather apply to government offices and abroad. Why? Because government was now paying much much higher than the private sector and so we had again what Metro Manila is now experiencing - overflowing emergency rooms at that time, horror stories of those that were turned down and eventually died,” she added.
To help Cebu cope with the surge, the national government had sent help.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deployed nine doctors, 10 nurses and 13 medics to Cebu City in June 2020.
Days after the arrival of the AFP medical personnel, the DOH central office also deployed 22 doctors from the Philippine Society of Medical Specialists to Cebu City.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) Cebu Chapter said they support the government’s move to augment nurses in the NCR but the decision lies with their members.
“As a professional organization we hope that those augmented nurses will be secured in terms of all mentioned incentives and welfare at its priority,” the group said in a statement.
The group said it was still waiting for the final guidelines on the deployment. (KFD / ANV / PAC)