Keep our nurses here -- Rodriguez

A veteran solon has appealed to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to refrain from sending nurses abroad while there is an ongoing health crisis brought about by the coronavirus disease or  COVID-19.

In a statement, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez appealed to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to temporarily stop the deployment of Filipino nurses abroad.

Rodriguez is reacting to reports that Germany was sending a plane to Manila to ferry “at least 75” intensive care unit (ICU) nurses to care for Germans infected with COVID-19

“Secretary Bello should suspend the sending of nurses abroad. We need our healthcare personnel here at this time of public health emergency to attend to sick Filipinos, and not foreigners,” Rodriguez said.

According to the news report, a group of over 150 hospitals in the German federal state of Hesse was dispatching a “recruitment flight” to Manila to ferry a minimum of 75 Filipino nurses with ICU training.

The solon said the country’s healthcare system is already overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases and many public and private hospitals are complaining of lack of personnel.

Rodriguez noted that due to its depleted manpower, the Department of Health (DOH) is looking for volunteer doctors and nurses.

“We need those nurses bound for Germany and other jobs overseas to augment our dwindling public health workforce,” he said.

He said hundreds of doctors, nurses and other hospital staff have already been sidelined by COVID-19 as they are on quarantine due to exposure to the virus.

The sending of healthcare workers abroad could resume after the country has successfully battled the coronavirus diseases.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez urged the DOH to refrain from “asking for volunteer doctors and nurses but to instead hire them and pay them professionally with competitive rates.”

He said the recruits should also be given hazard pay and special risk allowance.

“They should be properly compensated. They are our modern-day heroes,” he said.