COVID-19 Update – November 6

Situation Update

Since our last update on Monday, there have been 2,045 new cases of COVID-19 identified, including 243 new cases today. The total number of cases identified so far in Manitoba now sits at 7,419.

The five-day test positivity rate in Manitoba is 9.1%, up from 9.0% on Monday. In Winnipeg, the test positive rate is 9.2%, down from 9.8%. 

There are currently 4,286 active cases, up from 3,455 on Monday. This includes 161 people in hospital, up from 124 on Monday, with 20 in ICU. 

Sixteen more COVID-related deaths have occurred since Monday, including five today. 

You can learn more about the current situation in today’s public health bulletin.

Code Red restrictions are now in place in Winnipeg, with other regions now all at orange on the pandemic response system. 

Because of increasing cases, Southern Health Region will be escalated to red (critical) on the pandemic response system starting Monday, November 9. Restrictions will be added that mirror those already in place in Winnipeg. 

Your Feedback: Shared Health’s Pandemic Plan

Shared Health released details of their provincial hospital contingency plan today. Yesterday, hundreds of physicians and other health providers attended a Shared Health town hall to hear about the plan and ask their questions. We are seeking your advice about the plan. We’ve already received the feedback from dozens of physicians who are more concerned than ever about the level of preparedness for this crisis.

If you missed it, Shared Health has posted a recording you can watch online by clicking a link at the end of this memoYou can see a slide deck of the plan here. The plan has four pillars: space, equipment, supplies and staffing, which they say will be activated in phases as the volume of admissions increases. They have offered reassurance about identifying contingency space and having the equipment and supplies on hand to open 100 ICU beds and hundreds of medicine and low-acuity medicine beds. The triggers to open these beds along with the physician resourcing plans, however, were not shared in much detail. 

Earlier today, our CEO Theresa Oswald sent a message to all physicians asking for your your advice and feedback about the provincial pandemic contingency plan. We know physicians have serious concerns about what wasn’t included in the plan, that it lacked specifics, and  was thin on details about the physician resourcing plans to cover the contingency beds they have planned. 

As Ms. Oswald said, “at this critical juncture, we are asking you to send us your feedback and ideas on the plan. A collective, specific and coordinated response gives physicians an even stronger voice.  If physicians’ views in the public arena are divided or even conflicting, it erodes our ability to influence rapid improvement and positive outcomes.” 

We quickly need your expert advice about the gaps in Shared Health’s plan. We will compile and share the feedback from physicians with the hopes that Shared Health will improve their plan and share it in full without delay.

Send us your views today or over the weekend on the plan by emailing covid19@doctorsmanitoba.ca. We will compile your views into a cohesive response that speaks for doctors of Manitoba, no matter where you live or work. We need to get specific. So please email us and tell us:

  1. What was missing from Shared Health’s plan? What do you need to know today?
  2. Were there any elements of the plan, even foundational, that are positive?
  3. Shared Health’s plan has four pillars: space, equipment, supplies and human resources. How do you feel about the level of readiness for each pillar?

We have already raised with Shared Health the urgent need for more details. They responded this afternoon: “We know you are seeking specifics and details and we are committed to sharing information as this plan evolves. We welcome and will respond to the questions submitted before and during the Town Hall. And we will do everything possible to minimize disruption and support you along the way. Responses to questions that were not addressed during the Town Hall are in development and will be shared as soon as possible.”

Doctors Manitoba will review and compile your feedback over the weekend and we will be in touch with physicians working in areas like critical care, medicine, emergency and other areas to help formalize our response on the provincial plan. 

New Public Campaign to Support Hospitals

We have heard you loud and clear. Hospitals – and the physicians working in the – are being pushed to their limits. Following the Red Alert we issued on Monday to all Manitobans, Doctors Manitoba has launched a public awareness campaign, drawing attention to the state of our hospitals and urging Manitobans to help by staying home to stop the spread. 

The digital ads portray a number of common and familiar social, family and work settings that Manitobans should avoid right now. Direct, attention-grabbing images and text ask Manitobans to help by staying home to stop the spread and save lives. The ads will appear on social media, online search results and on prominent websites.

You can help spread the word, not the virus

Whether with your patients in an email or with your friends and family on social media, you can help spread the word. As a physician, your patients and your family and friends trust you advice. Please share this message widely to help save lives, and to show support for physicians working in our ICUs, medicine wards, ERs and other settings that are so close to the edge right now. 

We have posted campaign images and sample posts that you can access here.

This campaign builds on the message we have brought to Manitobans on behalf of physicians through widespread coverage on TV, print and radio. Thank you to Dr. Cory Baillie, President of Doctors Manitoba, and ICU physician Dr. Kendiss Olafson for your help in getting this message out! 

Virtual Care Expanded

 
While this felt virtually impossible just a few weeks ago, yesterday the provincial government finally agreed to a much needed expansion of virtual care. 
 
Physicians now have access to more virtual visit options for their patients, including a virtual alternative to complete exams as well as age modifiers for the extra time needed for most elderly patients. 
 
Review our summary of the new virtual visit tariffs, and visit our virtual care resource centre for the complete list of virtual visit tariffs, rate tables, and tips on incorporating virtual care into your practice. 
 
How did we get here? We have been pressing for more virtual care options for months, engaging directly with provincial officials and more recently making our case to the public.  With Winnipeg elevated to code red restrictions and repeated messages about limiting contact, the need for more virtual care couldn’t be clearer. Shared Health issued new guidelines recommending community and outpatient practices shift their patient visits to two thirds virtual. This target was simply not achievable without the additional virtual visit tariffs to support physicians in continuing to care for their physicians. 
 
If you missed it, see a letter about the virtual care expansion to all physicians from our President, Dr. Cory Baillie. We also issued a joint release with the province about the expansion of virtual care.

Clinic-Based Testing Expanded

A second medical clinic has opened COVID testing, following advocacy by Doctors Manitoba. 

The team at the Minor Illness and Injury Clinic is opening a drive-thru testing location in the parking lot at Red River College’s Notre Dame Campus at 2055 Notre Dame Ave. Testing is available by appointment weekdays from 5pm to 10pm and on weekends from 10am to 4pm. Appointments can be booked online at www.covidwpg.com.

This joins a medical clinic-based testing site that is open at Dakota Medical Centre at 17-845 Dakota Street. Appointments are available at this clinic weekdays from 6pm to 10pm, Saturdays from 2pm to 6pm and Sundays from 1pm to 5pm. Appointments can be booked online and walk-in testing is also available. 

We know that as COVID-19 cases surge, getting a test easily and without delay will help to slow the spread of this virus. Dozens of physicians have offered to help and we continue to advocate for more clinic-based testing locations. 

You can get a complete list of testing locations across Manitoba online

Staying Well During This Crisis

As cases surge, there is increasing pressure on physicians in all settings. No one is immune to the risk of burnout, depression, anxiety and distress during this crisis. Be ready to support a colleague, and to stay well yourself. 

Here are three resources to help.

Physician Health Webinar this Monday: You can learn more about how to cope — or how to help a colleague cope — by attending our physician health and wellness webinar on November 9 at 5:30PM. We have an expert panel to help you learn more about the various physician health services members can access, as well as share more information about CPSM’s approach to physician health. Learn more here about the panel, and register today!

Physician Health and Wellness Services: All members and others in their household have 24/7 access to the Physician and Family Support Program, offering counseling and referrals. Help is a phone call away at 1-844-436-2762. Add this number to your contacts now, so you have it when you, a colleague, or your family member needs it. There are also services available through MDCare and Physicians At Risk. Learn more about these services.

Staying Well During the PandemicOur guide brings together physician-focused advice from a variety of resources. Building resilience and coping with stress and burnout is not one-size-fits-all. Rather, a personal approach is needed. Review our guide for tips and suggestions, and see our pandemic physician wellness page for other resources.

We are also seeking your feedback about the Physicians at Risk service. Please take our survey about the Physicians At Risk program. This survey is for everyone, whether or not you have personally used the program.

Physicians At Risk, or PAR, has provided physician-led peer support to physicians since 1986. We have heard many positive reviews of this service, but an anonymous survey will help us find opportunities for improvement. The survey is 100% voluntary and 100% anonymous.

Nominate a Colleague Who Inspires You!

As we enter the most critical time of this pandemic so far, we don’t want to lose sight of the need to recognize and honour those who are a source of strength and inspiration.  

Please consider nominating a colleague today for a 2021 Doctors Manitoba Award, the highest honour for physicians in our province. Nominations are due December 1, 2020.

Based on feedback from physicians, we have redesigned our annual awards to improve how we recognize the achievements across the profession. This includes a new honour: The Doctors Manitoba Medal of Excellence. 

The annual awards include:

  • Doctors Manitoba Medal of Excellence – a new honour to recognize those who demonstrate excellence in the medical profession and whose actions are a source of inspiration for other physicians.
  • Physician of the Year Award – to celebrate an exceptional achievement or contribution to the practice of medicine and/or to the community by a member of Doctors Manitoba.
  • Distinguished Service Award – to recognize a long career of services to patients and the community that embodies the highest standards and ideals of the medical profession, and in the promotion of the art and science of medicine through teaching, writing and administration. This is an excellent option to consider for physicians approaching retirement or who have recently retired.
  • Resident of the Year – for excellence in academic and clinical training and noteworthy contributions to the resident’s home program/specialty or residency program.
  • Dr. Jack Armstrong Humanitarian Award – to celebrate outstanding contributions by a member or former member of Doctors Manitoba in the service of humanity either within Canada or abroad. Awarded only when a suitable candidate is identified.

Learn more about the awards criteria and nomination requirements online.

Pots for Docs – Tonight at 7PM

Manitobans are invited to get outside tonight at 7PM and bang their loudest pot to show their support for physicians. This public show of appreciation for doctors replicates the support demonstrated in other countries during surges of COVID-19. Everyone from Mayor Brian Bowman to Ace Burpee is jumping on board! 

The support of the public couldn’t come at a more critical time. This has been a tough week for the physician community for many reasons. You are working hard under new restrictions and mounting pressure to continue caring for your patients. We know the sole motivation and focus for all 3,000+ physicians in this province is to protect the health and well-being of your patients through this pandemic. You have Manitobans’ back, and tonight they will show you they have yours. 

The team at Doctors Manitoba are enthusiastically participating. We appreciate the work of all physicians during this crisis to continue caring for your patients. Your focus on protecting your patients’ health during the pandemic has only strengthened our dedication to Doctors Manitoba’s vision of ensuring every physician has the support they need to deliver exceptional care to Manitobans. 

We’re Hiring

 As we work hard to fight for physicians during this pandemic, including supporting your health and well-being, we are recruiting a new staff member to help us fight even stronger. 

We are looking for a new Communications Coordinator to help us do a better job of keeping you informed and reaching out to Manitobans more effectively. We have a lot of plans, based on the input from hundreds of members, to improve how we communicate with physicians and the public. We are looking for someone who believes in our mission to strengthen and support the whole physician.

If you know a friend or family member who could be a good fit, send them our posting and encourage them to apply by November 13.