COVID19 Update – March 19

March 19:

Situation Update

As of noon today, no new cases were reported by provincial officials. The total is 17 in Manitoba, with 16 confirmed to be travel-related and investigations still underway on the 17th. One case was reported as hospitalized in stable condition. Additional cases are sometimes announced late in the day.

Hospitals will no longer allow any visitors, a measure already in place for PCHs. Exceptions will be made for pediatric, obstetric and serious trauma or emergency patients or other case-by-case compassionate reasons. Physicians are reminded to bring their ID badge along for access to facilities.

Preparations continue for anticipated inpatient admissions. A new 30-bed COVID-19 isolation medical unit is being set up at HSC in anticipation of future needs. An order of 27 additional ventilators have arrived with 16 more en route.

View today’s provincial bulletin and the province’s main COVID-19 site for any late-in-the-day updates.

New Checklist for Clinics

Doctors Manitoba has created a new checklist for clinics, based on questions our Board posed on your behalf to Dr. Roussin, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer. The checklist offers guidance on how to keep your family medicine clinic operational through the pandemic, including strategies to divert potential COVID-19 cases away while continuing to offer in-person and virtual care for routine health issues. Review the one-page checklist today.

Virtual Care Tariff Clarification

We have received a lot of positive feedback, concerns and questions about how to use the new virtual care tariff, negotiated by Doctors Manitoba. We are in the process of creating a guide on virtual care in the next few days, but in the mean time see some initial feedback and guidance below.

A reminder that this is a new tariff currently limited to the pandemic period. Many physicians have already expressed a desire to continue offering virtual visits to their patients after the pandemic too. Some have expressed concerns we may not get that option if we don’t use the new virtual visit tariff as intended during this trial period.

Consider the following as you introduce virtual care in your practice:

  • DO offer virtual care as an alternative to existing in-office visits where clinically appropriate
  • DON’T use the new tariff for phone advice you would normally have provided following an in-person visit, such as sharing test results.
  • DO document appropriately, as required by CPSM.
  • DON’T invite patients to call for routine questions about COVID-19 and then claim a virtual visit. These are best directed to provincial online resources or Health Links.
  • DO conduct the visit yourself. Virtual visits by non-physicians are not covered.
  • DON’T claim a virtual visit on the same day as an in-person visit
  • DO continue to provide PCH care in person, unless you are ill or required to self-isolate. You can continue to use tariff 8000 for calls from PCH staff.
  • DON’T claim office/home visit tariffs for services provided virtually.
  • DO get verbal patient consent for a phone or video visit and document it.

You can view the tariff billing information for technical information and contact Roger or Ian at covid19@doctorsmanitoba.ca with any questions.

Do you have experience in offering phone and video visits? We want to hear from you. Please email covid19@doctorsmanitoba.ca with your advice on how to get started and what to consider, so we can incorporate this into a new guide on virtual care we are preparing for all members. We hope to have the new guide ready in the next few days.

Reminder on Screening and Testing

The public is being reminded to use the new online screening tool and Health Links for initial screening. The online tool has already had over 150,000 visits. Health Links wait times were down yesterday, to an average of 90 minutes. This is still too long, and more staff are being added along with an automated interactive voice screening option to help further reduce wait times.

Following screening, patients may be referred to a COVID-19 screening clinic. Clinics will not accept walk-ins.

There are now 9 screening clinics open, with 4 in Winnipeg and clinics in Thompson, Flin Flon, The Pas, Brandon and the first drive-thru clinic open in Selkirk. Two more drive-thru clinics will soon, with one in the MPI Garage on Bison Drive in Winnipeg and one in Steinbach. Drive-thru screening clinics were recommended by Manitoba physicians and have been successful in other countries.

Cadham has completed over 3,200 tests, and their capacity is being tested. Testing may be prioritized first for inpatients, health care providers (including physicians), the very ill and PCH. Outpatient tests may be delayed. Tests should not be requested for asymptomatic patients. The province offers a fact sheet to patients on what to do while waiting their test results.

Please see our earlier COVID-19 updates for additional information and see our COVID-19 resources page for links to helpful resources from Shared Health, Manitoba Health and others.

If you have any concerns or issues, please contact us at covid19@doctorsmanitoba.ca