COVID-19 Update-April 29

Situation Update:

One additional COVID-19 case was identified today, bringing the total to 273 in Manitoba. Only 54 cases are still active, with five in hospital with 0 in ICU.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, also released detailed modelling including epidemiological projections with different scenarios. Overall, his presentation showed that Manitoba’s public health actions have helped to prevent a worse scenario with COVID-19 and are, essentially, flattening our curve.

Shared Health also reported that acute hospital beds have a 40% vacancy rate today while adult ICU beds are about 34% vacant. They did acknowledge this capacity is available due to slow-downs in planned services like surgery and because a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations has not materialized. This could change as health service restrictions are eased, but they also confirmed planning is underway to add 300 additional hospital beds and 100 additional ICU beds, with consideration of additional capacity options if needed. Doctors Manitoba continues to press for the provincial clinical pandemic plan to enable us to them on the physicians needed to staff the planned capacity.

Today the province also unveiled its plan to reopen the economy and expand services, informed by the public health modelling and health system capacity. While physical distancing is still required, the provincial plan is similar to other jurisdictions and includes a number of phases, the timing of which will be informed by public health surveillance.

Starting Monday, May 4, the first phase will see the following restrictions eased on non-essential health services and retail businesses.This includes:

  • Non-urgent surgery and diagnostic procedures
  • Therapeutic and medical services, including dentistry and physiotherapy
  • Retail businesses such as clothing stores
  • Restaurant patios
  • Hair salons
  • Museums and libraries
  • Outdoor recreation including golf and campgrounds

However, several restrictions will remain in place, including travel and group gatherings capped at 10 or less. Social distancing must still be followed in all settings. People must stay home and self-isolate when sick or following travel.

Child care capacity will be expanded as restrictions are lifted.
The province noted that the limit on group gatherings will be increased as appropriate. However, the province also confirmed it is not considering reopening schools for this school year at this time. Mass gatherings like concerts, festivals and sporting events will not be considered before September, 2020.

Phase II, which could start as early as June 1, would then consider reopening other areas including nail salons, dine-in restaurant services, non-contact children’s sports and film production.

As Dr. Brent Roussin emphasized today, this is not a return to normal. We are still dealing with COVID-19 and the potential for it to spread if we let our guard down. A measured and gradual approach is needed to stay on top of the situation.

You can review the public health bulletin with modeling information, as well as the provincial roadmap to reopening services, for more information.

Your Patients Need You to Stay Focused on Your Health and Wellness

Whether its COVID-19 or other medical conditions, your patients need you to be healthy. Regardless of where you work, the pandemic response is affecting your medical practice and your personal life, and this can have a cumulative affect on your health, well-being and ability to continue providing care to your patients.

We have a guide to help you stay well during the pandemic. It is written for all physicians and we encourage all of you to review it. You can also access psychiatrist and psychologist support through MDCare.

We also have a few additional updates to help you stay on top of your health and wellbeing at work and at home:

Insurance Coverage Expanded

For Participants in the Doctors Manitoba Extended Health Plan, the Clinical Psychology benefit has been expanded to include other approved mental health practitioners namely, Psychotherapists, Clinical Therapists or Marriage and Family Therapists to a combined maximum of $750.00 per person, per calendar year. As well, coverage has been expanded for members with Diabetes. Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) systems and Flash Glucose Monitoring (FGM) systems have been added as a standalone Extended Health Plan benefit for eligible members who require intensive insulin therapy to a maximum of $4,000.00 per person, per calendar year. Special pre-authorization is required. Please contact Mark Venton at mventon@doctorsmanitoba.ca or 204-985-5846 for questions and assistance.

Supporting your Colleagues

You and your colleagues need each other to find our way through this. One way to help is ensure you are doing the right things to offer psychological support during all stages of dealing with COVID-19, particularly in the earlier stages before a surge arrives or prolonged periods like that in which Manitoba now finds itself. Over in the UK, the COVID Trauma Response Working Group of the NHS trusts has created rapid research-informed guidance for establishing psychological support during COVID-19. Though targeted at hospital planners, there are plenty of relevant tips for all physician leaders.

Take a few moments to review the one-page quick reference diagram for more information.

CMA Investment in Doctors Manitoba for Pandemic Response

The Canadian Medical Association, in partnership with Scotiabank and MD Financial, has provided $250,000 to Doctors Manitoba to help us support physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This contribution is helping in several ways, including supporting our public campaign “Don’t put your health on hold.” Physicians have told us they have seen sharp drops in patient visits and part of the solution is reminding the public that doctors are still providing care during the pandemic. This campaign, already with over 2.8 million views, is bringing this message to Manitobans and encouraging them to call their doctor or visit CallYourDoctor.ca for more information. With more virtual care options and surgeries starting to resume, this message is well-timed to help reconnect patients and physicians. You can help share this message with your patients and the public – find out how.

The funding is also helping with our response to your urgent PPE needs. With the broken promises from the provincial government and undelivered orders from Shared Health, Doctors Manitoba is trying to help fill the gap by identifying suppliers and maintaining a limited stock of PPE for physicians in immediate need. Please contact us for help, and review our PPE resources page for more information.

You can learn more about the national funding initiative offered in partnership by the CMA, Scotiabank and MD Financial.