COVID-19 Update-May 11

Situation Update

Today, Manitoba announced two new cases of COVID-19. With three cases yesterday and one on Friday, Manitoba now sits at 289 cases overall. Only 35 are still active, including four in hospital with one in ICU. To date, Cadham Lab has performed 31,029 tests. You can view more information in today’s public health bulletin.

Effective today, the 30-day limit on prescription drugs has been lifted by the provincial government. This measure was put in place due to concerns about drug supply disruptions. As long as drugs are not affected by any shortages, pharmacists can now resume dispensing three-month supplies.

This week is National Nursing Week. Take a few minutes from your day this week to show your appreciation to your nursing colleagues who, like you, are navigating a very challenging few omths on the front lines.

Introduction of New President and AGM Summary

On Friday, physicians across the province were scheduled to come together for our annual gala event. Of course, we postponed the event due to the pandemic but proceeded with our annual general meeting with scores of physicians participating from home or from their office.

We adapted the format to also welcome our new President, Dr. Cory Baillie. The chain of office was passed from the outgoing president, Dr. Fourie Smith, to Dr. Baillie in ceremony that honoured our 112-year tradition in the socially distanced, precautionary manner required during this unique year in our history.

Dr. Baillie, a rheumatologist, takes the reins of Doctors Manitoba in the middle of the largest public health emergency in over a century. After recognizing Dr. Smith for leading us through the first wave, he acknowledged how much work there is left to do to support physicians during the pandemic response and recovery. He was unwavering in his comments about Doctors Manitoba, and the medical profession more broadly, standing strongly against short-sighted decisions and inaction from provincial decision-makers.

He also noted that the strategic plan developed in the months leading up to the pandemic, based on engaging feedback from members, will help guide us through crisis. He encouraged members to stay tuned for the final plan, which will be released in the coming weeks.

Dr. Baillie invited members to contact him with their vision for Doctors Manitoba and the needs of the profession. You can email him at president@doctorsmanitoba.ca.

The AGM also saw unanimous support for a recommendation from the Board on a package of amendments to modernize the Doctors Manitoba bylaws. This will adopt more contemporary approaches to corporate governance while offering a more effective and efficient operation of special committees such as insurance, awards and physician health and wellness. Members also confirmed the new President-Elect, Dr. Kristjan Thompson, while recognizing the dedication and service of Past-President Dr. Shannon Prud’homme.

Keeping Your Practice Open

Services and businesses began reopening one week ago. We’ve taken this opportunity to update our checklist for clinics to help you keep your practice open and meet current requirements and advice. You will find tips on communicating with your patients, screening and cleaning protocols, applying social distancing advice, and more. Shared Health has also issued advice for outpatient settings on re-opening or staying open during this next phase of the pandemic.

In a survey of physicians last week, we found that 77% of you are still reporting a concerning decrease in patient visits compared to pre-pandemic volumes. You told us that the top reasons for this are patient-driven, including patients following stay-at-home advice, concerns about catching coronavirus in a health setting, and patients unaware that clinics are open or that alternatives like virtual visits are an option.

We have run a successful campaign over the last few weeks to remind Manitobans not to put their health on hold and to call their doctor. The campaign has garnered 4.4 million views and a lot of coverage on the news. We are now looking at options to extend the campaign, which the vast majority of members asked us to do, using the feedback you shared in last week’s survey.

In the mean time, you can help by spreading this message to your members and in your community. We have a campaign resource page for physicians with draft messages for patients, posters and post cards, images for social media and more. If you’re interested in getting this message into your local news, like Dr. Leanne Nause did in Morden last week, contact us for help by emailing covid19@doctorsmanitoba.ca.

We know that it’s not just community-based physicians who are seeing a concerning drop in visits. Emergency physicians have reported the same phenomenon and we’ve encouraged Manitobans to seek urgent and emergency care when needed. Community and hospital physicians have shared stories about the risks of not staying on top of medical concerns, with untreated conditions leading to avoidable complications and hospitalizations.

Surgeons have also seen a troubling decrease, as most surgeries were suspended by the health system to help slow the spread of COVID-19. While some surgeries are gradually starting to resume, we estimate that 4,000 to 6,000 surgeries were lost during the pandemic suspension and it could take more than a year to catch up. This will be an important topic during tomorrow’s webinar with surgeons (see below for more details and register now)

Webinar Reminder

We have several upcoming webinars on pandemic-related topics. Please see below and click to register.

    • Surgeon Focus: Tuesday, May 12 at 5:00PM – Register now
    • Psychiatrist Focus:  Wednesday, May 13 at 12:00 noon – Register now
    • Medical and Other Specialty Focus: – Thursday, May 14 at 5:00PM – Register now
    • Coping During Crisis Webinars:  MDCare is offering two webinars this month to help physicians learn what works when it comes to coping during COVID-19. The 90-minute webinars will be offered:

PPE Innovation and Update

Last week, the province announced it is order up to a million reusable N95 masks based on a design by local physicians Dr. Adrian Robertson and Dr. Christian Petropolis. The masks can be sterilized and reused up to 30 times. The physicians made their innovative design “open source” to help with rapid development and manufacturing. Last week we spotlighted the innovations that can arise from the improvisation and workarounds during a crisis, and we’re excited to see this promising idea turn into a product that will help protect physicians and other front line health care workers during the pandemic.

PPE continues to be in short supply. While physicians may be able to order through their regular vendor, you can also order through Shared Health by emailing scmincidentcommand@sharedhealthmb.ca. Doctors Manitoba is also offering assistance. We have a list of suppliers available that may still be able to deliver to you. For physicians in immediate need, we also have a limited stock of some PPE products available in our office. You can email us at PPEconcerns@doctorsmanitoba.ca with questions, concerns or to request PPE assistance.

Happy Mother’s Day, Physicians

Yesterday Manitobans found creative socially-distanced ways to celebrate Mother’s Day. Physicians are no different. For some, it meant celebrating with your spouse and your kids and for others it meant finding unique ways to connect with their moms who may, in some cases, be unable to receive visitors.

Being a mom and a physician are two full-time jobs. To all the physicians who are also moms, we say thank you and Happy Mother’s Day. And to those physician parents-to-be, a reminder that Doctors Manitoba offers parental leave benefits to support you while you start your new family and look forward to many Mother’s Days to come.