COVID-19 – March 6, 2020

While there have not yet been any lab-confirmed cases here in Manitoba, many of you are focused on preparing to ensure you are equipped to serve your patients. We have set up a COVID-19 resource page to help you connect with the most up-to-date info from health officials. However, we continue to hear from many family doctors that the information from provincial authorities does not respond to all of their concerns. You are not alone – in fact our colleagues in other provincial medical associations have echoed similar frustrations. We have connected with senior provincial health officials to share your concerns and about the need for clinical guidelines written specifically for family medicine clinics. The concerns we have heard include:

  • Clinic protocols for potential COVID-19 cases including patients with symptoms or suspect travel history. How do we screen? How do we isolate, keeping in mind many are small offices that may be inadequate? Should clinics be doing this at all or redirecting patients to testing centres?
  • Communication tools for public/patient inquiries, such as posters, brochures, etc. These should be in multiple languages. Note that some materials are available on Shared Health’s website.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Is government coordinating ordering and stockpiling PPE for community clinics? How can clinics access PPE through government? What type of masks are needed? How do physicians and clinic staff get fit tested? What kind of PPE is actually recommended for different settings?
  • What do we do if a suspected/confirmed case was in our clinic? Do we have to close for 14 days or can we disinfect and continue providing patient care? Do we have to contact patients and staff who were in the clinic that day?
  • How do we handle staff returning from countries with COVID-19 outbreaks, like China and Iran? Do we tell them to self-isolate at home?

We have also connected with government concerning remuneration matters to ensure there is clarity, like in past public health crises, about billing codes related to testing and treatment, virtual care and disruptions in clinic operations.

Our staff are monitoring the situation closely and we have reflected on past events such as pandemic H1N1 and SARS to anticipate potential issues for our members. If you are not getting the information and support you need from provincial health officials, please contact us at general@doctorsmanitoba.ca.

We have also prepared a backgrounder of tips and considerations for employers related to COVID-19.

Insurance Coverage: Doctors Manitoba has clarified how our insurance benefits can provide some coverage due to COVID-19. If you participate in our Disability or Office Overhead Insurance programs and become ill and suffer loss of income due to coronavirus, contact our office to apply for disability benefits. Also, if you implement a symptomatic or asymptomatic self-quarantine, you can also make a disability claim. These claims will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and will be subject to all the terms and conditions of your policy including the waiting period. Please contact Mark Venton at mventon@doctorsmanitoba.ca or 204-985-5846 for more information.