We were just talking about DOH’s final closure of the RNHEALS program, which ran for four years. Speculations of a new program spread in the nursing community like wildfire, to some even calling it “Nurses to the Barrios Program” because the new program operates like the DTTB program of the health department. In my previous column I debunked these circulating rumors when I find time to meet DOH’s Health Human Resource Development Bureau (HHRDB) Director.
The Health Department Secretary, Enrique Ona signed DOH-DC 2013-0403 or the Implementing Guidelines for the Nurse Deployment Project 2014 – the successor of the RNHEALS Project. A certified true copy was submitted to the DOH records section last November 21, 2013.
The health department designed this new program for nurses to improve local health systems and support the country’s attainment of the Universal Health Care (Kalusugang Pangkalahatan), one of the main goals of the Aquino Health Agenda (AHA).
Contrasting the former program, the NDP shall “contract” registered nurses and deploy them in the 20 poorest provinces and 1,233 poorest municipalities identified by the National Anti-Poverty Commission. Nurses shall also be deployed in the program areas of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Pantawid Pamilya Program (3Ps) or Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) areas.
The project shall also require partnerships with different stakeholders including the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Professional Regulation Commission-Board of Nursing (PRCBON), counterpart regional and provincial offices of DOH, local government units (LGUs), and private organizations such as the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA), among others.
Nurses under NDP shall be contracted with an equivalent item of NURSE I with Salary Grade 11, a monthly salary amounting to PhP 18,549. Their contract will be for six months, but can be renewed should the performance of the nurse be satisfactory. The contract can be extended even up to two years. The salary shall be given in full for nurses who have completed the required number of working days. For absences and tardiness, deductions shall be based on the existing rules and regulations of the facility.
The HHRDB shall provide a distribution list to all its Centers for Health Development (CHDs) but CHDs must finalize the distribution of the nurses considering the capacity of the receiving parties (rural health units, Level I hospitals etc.). CHDs may then reallocate nurses in different implementing areas.
According to the guidelines “After the satisfactory completion of their deployment, the nurses shall be awarded with a certificate of employment”.Under the program’s guidelines, recruitment and selection period has already started last November 4 and will end in November 29, 2013. CHDs then shall set their timelines for accepting and selecting application within that period. Applicants may access and download an online copy of the application form through www.doh.gov.ph.
All applications must be submitted to the CHDs. Nurses residing within the locality where the recipient rural health unit/health facility and graduates of RNHEALS Program are prioritized.
All officially accepted nurses shall be notified via a letter, email, or any means of communication available in their locality with all names of successfully qualified nurses submitted to the HHRDB on or before December 15. All accepted nurses must undergo the pre-deployment orientation.
NDP nurses are assigned in the following areas:
- Rural health units
- Birthing homes
- Barangay health stations
- Level I LGU hospitals (preference to the identified areas of DSWD and NAPC)
NDP nurses shall perform the functions similar to that of a staff/public health nurse while nurses in the RHUs shall be trained to become supervisors of the community health teams. Nurses shall be required to submit a monthly accomplishment report describing the highlights of their activities, achievements to the targeted goals, learning insights and issues and concerns including recommendations. All reports shall be submitted to the heads of the CHDs through public health nurses/chief nurses of level I hospitals.
CHDs shall conduct midterm and end of deployment evaluation and shall be submitted to HHRDB to be part of the program implementation review.
As we venture to this new DOH program in the coming year, I do hope that nurses learned their lessons that they have to be pro-active while partaking these programs. During the span of the implementation of the RNHEALS many nurses kept complaining via their social network sites on how their stipends were delayed but when asked to officially file their complaints they shy off.
This time I hope that all nurses participating in this project will be actively reporting irregularities in the program, not just by ranting online but by helping DOH-HHRDB gather verified and legitimate complains. And hoping that DOH will act promptly to legitimate concerns, addressing issues appropriately and letting the public know that such concerns were already addressed.
VitalSigns Issue 58 Vol. 2, December 1-31, 2013