Advocate for equal pay for both government and private sector nurses

This is in response to Maristela Abenojar’s letter titled “Pass law on nurses’ minimum base pay” (Philippine Daily Inquirer Opinion, 14 October 2019).

I am one with the Filipino Nurses United (FNU) in their call for higher wages for nurses in both the public and private sectors. However, pushing for a P30,000 minimum base pay for nurses in both sectors will not result in the equality that the proposed policy is aiming for. Currently, Salary Grade (SG) 15 is equivalent to P30,531. Thus, nurses in the public sector are already receiving a base pay higher than what is being proposed.

When Congress decides to change the law, it usually does so prospectively. Therefore, rather than setting the minimum or base pay at P30,000, it might be more beneficial (for private nurses) if we lobby for equal pay for both private and government nurses. Equal pay would mean pegging the salary of all nurses, whether in private or public sector, at the base pay set by the law for government nurses which is SG 15. Hopefully, in the long run, any increase in the base pay of government nurses based on the Salary Standardization Law and General Appropriations Act would mean the same increase for those in the private sector, creating an equal footing for all nurses regardless of the sector they are working in.

While this is a far-fetched policy alternative, with possible resistance from private health care institutions, it will guarantee private nurses with salaries at par with salaries of government nurses. I call on FNU, the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) and Bayan Muna partylist to review House Bill No. 3478 and look at other policy alternatives that will ensure Filipino nurses’ right to just compensation.

Electronic info to raise quality of PH healthcare

Philippine Daily Inquirer | 12:29 AM July 13th, 2015

RECORD-KEEPING or documentation is an essential part of nursing practice that has clinical and legal significance at the same time. It is said that quality documentation improves patient care which results in better outcomes, while poor documentation often contributes to poor-quality nursing care (Prideaux, 2011). Nursing documentation, a precursor to good patient care, is a vessel for efficient interdisciplinary communication and cooperation (Ammenwerth, Mansmann, Iller, & Eichstadter, 2003).

Nurses in majority of healthcare facilities in the Philippines still practice paper nursing documentation. A report of the Maryland Nursing Workforce Commission (2007) revealed that such method of documentation reduces the time spent at the bedside for patient care, thus directly affecting outcomes. This is where Nursing Informatics comes in.

Nursing Informatics “aims to improve the health of populations, communities, families and individuals by optimizing information management and communication” (ANA, 2001). It is fundamental in providing cost-effective high-quality healthcare, of which an important component is accurate clinical information.

Thede (2003) explained that electronic information systems provide an avenue for more effective communication and collection of patient health information resulting in more effective patient care. One example of such information system is the electronic health record or EHR, where multiple systems that cross to share data are networked to support efficient information management and communication within a healthcare system. EHR is largely advantageous because it tends to store large amounts of data that are made accessible at the same time in different places. What makes this system more interesting is its ability to provide healthcare teams with clinical alerts and reminders when abnormal parameters are identified in both laboratory and assessment data.

Electronic-based documentation systems would be of great value to Philippine hospitals with a nurse-patient ratio higher than the ideal. When the staffing ratio is high, nurses tend to allot more of their time documenting rather than actually caring for their patients at the bedside. In an electronic-based documentation system, trends in patient outcomes will be highlighted alongside medical and nursing management.

Such systems, while integrating the concepts and theories of nursing science, computer science and information science, propel the entire healthcare delivery system into a practice that is evidence-based and culturally-relevant. These systems should not be regarded as a substitute for clinical judgment or as a predictor of critical illness but as a tool that could help identify life-threatening cases.

Though most of Philippine hospitals are quite far from achieving this, such information systems should be viewed as a crucial facet in promoting a culture of patient safety where the documentation standards help and/or equally meet the standards of medical and nursing care.




A graduate’s ‘confession’ about his father

Philippine Daily Inquirer | 02:08 AM June 22nd, 2015


I KNOW the hardships my father, as the main breadwinner of the family, needs to face. He spends his weekends doing “sideline” jobs which add to the measly income he receives from the government. There were times when the only food we could afford was a can of sardines. There were also times when the only “baon” that my parents could give me as I’d leave for school was just enough for my jeepney fare and a “good luck” hug. During those trying times, my parents would humbly say to us, “Magtiis muna mga anak.” My siblings and I did not complain. We were happy and content with our simple life. But looking back and knowing how my father and his parents lived years back, I cannot help but cry and be thankful for the life I currently enjoy.

I remember my father telling me the sacrifices he and his parents had to make for him to finish college. There was a time when my grandparents had to pawn their wedding rings just to give him a fare going back to UP Diliman. He was lucky to have his uncle, the late UP history professor Wilfredo E. Tamayo, by his side during those difficult times.

Exactly four years ago, before my high school graduation, my father told me that he was not able to attend his college graduation. The reason was obvious—poverty. They did not have the money to pay for the graduation fee.

My father was able to attend my older sister’s college graduation five years ago. In a few days he’ll be attending another graduation.

I can vividly recall how proud he was during and after my sister’s graduation. He kept smiling and telling people that his daughter had graduated from college. Funny, he did the same after knowing I’ll be graduating this June.

Unlike other more fortunate families, we celebrated my sister’s success then at a small fast-food chain near the Philippine International Convention Center. But my father, seemingly happy, enjoyed the company of his family more than anything in this world.

On June 26, as I climb the stage to receive my diploma, I will bring with me my father’s name. I will bring with me the pride he had when he finished college. I will bring with me his unending hope that someday our lives will be better, that our lives will be what we all hoped for and prayed for. And as the university president hands me my diploma, I will remember the greatest advice my father, Reginald B. Tamayo, gave me—to remain humble and to keep a thankful heart.

I hope I always make him proud.