Even with the 30-day community quarantine in Metro Manila, both public and private hospitals in the region are already overwhelmed trying to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Health workers, who are at the frontlines and fighting the virus, are putting their lives at risk every single day, especially with the health sector suffering from depleting funds and running low on medical supplies and protective gear.

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Over the weekend, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that several health workers from the Philippine Heart Center and Rizal Medical Center in Pasig City were exposed to confirmed COVID-19 cases and were unable to wear personal protective equipment. They became patients under investigation (PUIs) and have gone on quarantine. Despite these dangers, health professionals continue to show up and take the challenge of curbing the virus head-on.

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During a flag ceremony held today, March 16, 2020, at the DOH headquarters, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III hailed all health workers as heroes and expressed his gratitude to them in a heartfelt speech. “Stay strong and keep alert. Keep heart. The Filipino people will never forget your heroism in this phase of great adversity. And may your families, relatives, and friends continue to understand our solemn oath. I pray with them and the whole nation that we shall overcome,” he said.

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“We continue to rely on your heroism in the weeks and months ahead. I also hope to see you in better times to personally embrace and thank you for indeed your manifest sense of heroism,” he added.

Health workers at the frontline

On Facebook, several feel-good posts were shared by health workers to uplift the spirits of their colleagues during this difficult time. Dr. Vanessa Carpio, a doctor who works at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) shared in a public Facebook post that despite the national order from the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges (APMC) to have medical interns pulled out from clinical rotations and hospital work, PGH Director Dr. Gap Legaspi reported that at least “137 of them have signed up to volunteer to continue serving.”

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“Our interns are ??. We are so humbled. And so proud of you guys [crying emoji, heart emoji],” Dr. Carpio wrote.

Posting similar news, JC Pilapil, a medical officer at the UP-PGH, also shared in a public Facebook post that at least “160 post-graduate interns and UPCM (University of the Philippines College of Medicine) interns have decided to stay on, volunteer, and continue rendering their services to our patients.”

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“Filipinos, I am both humbled and proud to introduce to you your future physicians. Please pray for them. Please pray for all of us healthcare workers,” he wrote.

Health workers stay to save lives

In another public Facebook post, Dr. Therese Anne Suñe, an infectious disease specialist fellow at the DOH-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH-RITM) where most COVID-19 patients are tested and confined, shared a touching post that reflected the plight of all health workers trying to fight the disease. Dr. Suñe writes,

“I miss my family and I don't know when I can see them again. But I have to stay.

“I miss my papa. But I have to stay to save the life of someone else's dad.

“I miss my mama. But I have to stay because someone is also waiting for their mom to come home.

“I miss my brother. But I have to stay because someone is also praying for his kuya's condition.

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“I miss my sister. But I have to stay because someone is also counting on us for her ate's safety.

“I hide myself in the bathroom most of the time and brush off my tears because I know someone else gathers his/her strength from us every time we make rounds.

“I miss my family and I don't know when I can see them again. But I have to stay. Because we need to be there for someone else's family.”

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The sacrifices our health workers make every single day is not easy, and so we owe it to them to also keep our selves healthy. Let us follow the guidelines of the community quarantine, practice proper hygiene and coughing etiquette, and ensure social distancing whenever we go out. Bayanihan, Pilipinas!

The Philippine General Hospital is in need of 70% ethyl alcohol, surgical masks, N95 masks, face shields, and surgical gowns. For donations, click here.

Want to help our frontliners? Here are some ideas on how you can help.

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