Nurses for OFW Hospital end up becoming OFWs | Inquirer News

Nurses for OFW Hospital end up becoming OFWs

By: - Correspondent / @melvingasconINQ
/ 05:40 AM October 06, 2022
INQUIRER.net stock images. STORY: Nurses for OFW Hospital end up becoming OFWs

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MANILA, Philippines — The newly established OFW (overseas Filipino worker) Hospital in San Fernando City, Pampanga, may be living up to its name — but not in the way it was intended to.

Its prospective nurses are leaving for higher paying jobs overseas, according to the hospital head, Dr. Jose Dante Dator.

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“The biggest challenge is hiring nurses. Everybody is aware that when we hire nurses locally, we don’t have as much response,” Dator said in a Senate briefing he gave on Wednesday on the proposed budget of the newly created Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

“Just last week we hired six nurses. Only two came to the hospital; two were already going abroad,” he reported.

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Created under Executive Order No. 154 issued by then President Rodrigo Duterte, the OFW Hospital has been in operation since May.

Aiming for ‘level 2’

Aside from functioning as a regular medical facility for migrant workers and their dependents, it is also intended to train health-care workers and serve as a research facility for work-related illnesses that OFWs contract abroad.

Dator said the hospital remained at a “low utilization rate” as it had attended so far only to outpatient cases. He stressed this point to highlight the need for more funding as the hospital was allotted only P13 million in the 2023 National Expenditure Program, out of the P500-million budget it requested.

Speaking with reporters after the briefing, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople appealed to Congress to augment the P13 million earmarked to the OFW Hospital to fill the “huge” fund gap.

“The OFW Hospital aims to cater to 1,000 patients a month. They will be admitting patients soon,” Ople said, adding that the facility targets a 102-bed capacity and a “level 2” status.

A level 2 hospital is capable of providing “definitive care for all injured patients,” with 24-hour general surgery services, and can handle cases involving orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care, according to the Department of Health (DOH) website.

Deployment cap?

Ople said the Marcos administration had begun discussing the possibility of imposing a deployment cap on certain occupations amid the current shortage of professionals in the country.

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An interagency meeting was conducted among the DMW, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, and the Commission on Higher Education to come up with a “sustainability program” to stem the country’s “brain drain,” she said.

“We are aware that we cannot prevent workers from leaving and it will be unjust to make them stay here because they have long been waiting for circumstances to change in the domestic workforce. We are already looking at some measures by which we can make our (skilled workers) stay,” Ople said.

First-ever budget

For its first year of operation, the DMW is seeking a budget of P15.2 billion, of which the bulk amounting to P11.7 billion will be earmarked to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, an attached agency of the department that provides direct services and assistance to OFWs, Ople said.

It was also asking for P50.5 million to set up 17 regional offices, she added.

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TAGS: Department of Migrant Workers, nurses leaving for abroad, OFW hospital, Overseas Filipino Workers, Susan Ople
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