The Quezon Medicare Hospital in southern Palawan is one of 16 hospitals established by the provincial government to cater to the residents' health. The hospital project was initiated during the governorship of now-2nd District Palawan Rep. Jose Chaves Alvarez and is being continued as a priority by Gov. Victorino Dennis Socrates.

Healthcare professionals employed by the provincial government at the 16 hospitals that it oversees might soon see increases in their salaries.

Dr. Faye Erika Labrador, provincial health officer, stated that if their proposal is accepted and implemented, specialists, physicians, nurses, and other allied health workers at the Palawan government-run hospitals will be paid more.

She said that this is to address the shortage of health practitioners interested in working in the hospitals that the province has established.

The general perception is that health care professionals are indispensable yet undervalued.

Some described feeling ignored and even disposable. Few of them felt appreciated while proudly defending their profession even though their lives were on the line, especially at the height of COVID-19.

(From left) Provincial information officer Atty. Christian Jay Cojamco, PHO chief Dr. Faye Erika Labrador, SPS-Alay sa Kabataan o Programang Pang-Edukasyong Medikal para sa Palaweño’s focal person Marivic Baaco, and Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates during the 3rd Arampangan sa Kapitolyo. | Photo from Palawan Provincial Information Office

They expressed frustration and dissatisfaction at their low pay, which is sometimes even delayed.

According to Labrador, the Provincial Health Office (PHO) submitted a pay standardization ordinance for healthcare professionals with the assistance of the Provincial Board’s (PB) health committee, led by Board Member Marivic Roxas and Board Member Rafael Ortega Jr.

“Nandoon na siya sa final stage ng pag-a-approve ng ordinance na ito. Hopefully, ma-increase ang ating mga espesyalista na salary from P49,000 to P71,000,” Labrador said during the 3rd Arampangan sa Kapitolyo (ASK) with Palawan Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates on March 31.

The proposed salary adjustment for general physicians is from P42,000 to P46,000, while the recommended wage raise for nurses, who presently earn P15,000 to P20,000, is P35,000.

The salaries for social workers, medical technicians, and laboratory technicians will also increase to P27,000.

“Kasi napansin namin na isa sa reasons kung bakit mayroon tayong kakulangan sa mga healthcare workers ay syempre yung consideration of salaries. Ito pong proposal namin ay kinompare din namin sa lahat ng probinsya, lalung-lalo na dito sa MIMAROPA,” she said.

Provincial information officer Atty. Christian Jay Cojamco, who is a member of the Local Finance Committee, added that they are already preparing for the salary increases of hospital employees.

He said they have already set aside additional funds for the purpose, which is in the Hospital Development Management Program (HDMP).

“Bilang paghahanda doon sa magiging pagtaas ng suweldo sa ating mga hospitals,” he said.

Labrador said there are 1,448 health personnel under contracts of service. Of this number, 48 are specialists, 96 are general physicians, and 207 are nurses.

Under the HDMP, the province currently has four Level 1 hospitals that can provide emergency care and treatment and 12 infirmaries.

Balabac Hospital’s application to become Level 1, she said, is already in the works, and the four that are presently on Level 1 have expressed an interest to become Level 2 hospitals.

“Mukhang ang mauuna nating magle-Level 2 ay si Southern Palawan Provincial Hospital (SPPH),” she said.

She also stated that SPPH and NPPH are now preparing the “infrastructures” to provide computerized tomography (CT) scans to patients.