DOH releases special risk allowance for CDO nurses, averts mass resignation

SALUTE TO THE FRONTLINERS. Members of the Cagayan de Oro Filipino-Chinese Fire Brigade honor the doctors and nurses of the Northern Mindanao Medical Center on Monday (1 June 2020). The hospital is the only medical facility that handles COVID-19 cases in Northern Mindanao in the early months of the pandemic. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 23 August) —The Department of Health (DOH) in Northern Mindanao (Region 10) has started releasing the Special Risk Allowance (SRA), averting the mass resignation of nurses in hospitals here caring for COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Jose Llacuna, DOH-10 director, said the money was already released to the JR Borja General Hospital and the state-owned Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), where nurses attending to COVID-19 patients have earlier threatened to resign out of sheer exhaustion and meager pay.

Llacuna said the SRA funds would also include nurses in private hospitals who are caring for COVID-19 patients in Northern Mindanao.

“All the private hospitals would have to do is bill the DOH and prepare the receipts,” Llacuna said during a press briefing on Saturday.

Mayor Oscar Moreno confirmed that the JR Borja General Hospital, which is managed by the city government, already received P9 million in SRA funds last week.

Moreno said the planned mass resignation of medical frontliners at the JR Borja General Hospital and NMMC would be “a great disaster” in the fight against COVID-19.

“God forbids if the mass resignation pushes through, it is not the NMMC and officials of Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao that would lose. It’s the people who will lose,” Moreno said.

Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez (2nd district, Cagayan de Oro) said Health Secretary Francisco Duque ordered the release of the money following the recent House committee hearing involving the DOH’s use of P6.3 billion funds.

“I appeal to the nurses not to resign and not give up their oath,” Rodriguez said.

Nurses from the JR Borja General Hospital and the NMMC have aired threats of resigning to news reporters, after complaining of meager pay and sheer exhaustion in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rodriguez said nurses caring for COVID-19 patients would each receive a special risk allowance amounting to P5,000.

At the NMMC, a nurse who wants to be identified only as “Pam” said the hospital administration is planning to open more floors for COVID-19 cases, but without hiring new nurses.

“We are already burdened by too much tasks. I had to tend to 20 COVID-19 patients alone in one day because my fellow nurses had gone absent,” Pam said.

Rodriguez said the DOH had promised to look after the hiring of more nurses during the congressional hearing. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)