COVID-19 Update-May 10, 2021
In today’s update you’ll find:
Since our last update on Friday, COVID surveillance indicators have increased:
- Daily cases up: Another 1,511 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in just three days, including 502 today. This brings the total case count in Manitoba to 42,452.
- Test positivity up: The five-day test positivity rate is 11.6%, up from 9.6%. It is 13.8% in Winnipeg, up from 11.3% It’s important to note these increasing test positivity rates are also accompanied by an increase in testing volumes.
- Active cases up: There are 3,771 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, up from our last report of 2,989.
- Hospitalizations increasing: There are 215 people in hospital due to COVID-19, up from 201. This includes 60 people in ICU, up from 56.
- Ten new deaths related to COVID-19 were identified, including four reported today. The total number of deaths is 997.
Manitoba has resumed expanding eligibility based on age. Today, eligibility for mRNA vaccines expanded to include those age 30 and up. Others may be eligible if they live in“hot spot” communities, work in certain occupations, or fit other criteria, like women who are pregnant. Eligibility should be open to everyone age 12 and up by May 21, according to projections from the Province.
So far, 44.4% of Manitoba adults (or 34% of Manitobans of all ages) have received at least one dose, up from 41.6% on Friday.
Doctors Manitoba Award Recipients Unveiled
We are excited to unveil the extraordinary recipients of this year’s Doctors Manitoba awards!
“We are celebrating doctors who have helped protect us from COVID-19, and others who have continued to care for their patients despite the disruptions and uncertainty the pandemic has caused,” said Dr. Kristjan Thompson, President of Doctors Manitoba.“The Doctors Manitoba annual awards celebrate the outstanding contributions of physicians from around our province.”
All of the recipients were nominated by physicians and selected by the Doctors Manitoba Awards Committee, a group of physicians tasked with overseeing the process. Awards Committee Chair, Dr. Michael Boroditsky, explained that “we are unveiling our award recipients now, during this third wave, to recognize and show our support for these extraordinary physicians.” He added that “the physicians we are recognizing this year are talented individuals and we’re lucky they call Manitoba home.”
This year’s honourees include the following group of courageous and committed individuals dedicated to advancing the medical profession and improving care for Manitobans.
- Dr. Brent Roussin, Physician of the Year. Dr. Roussin was nominated and selected by his peers, recognizing his truly exceptional contribution to the medical community and to the people of Manitoba over the last year. He has been the most regular, public face of the profession during the pandemic as he leads the fight against COVID-19. All physicians are trained to weigh risks and benefit with patients at an individual level, and Dr. Roussin has had to do this for our province’s whole population for over a year now.
- Dr. Murray Kesselman, Distinguished Service Award. A pediatric specialist and associate professor, we are celebrating Dr. Kesselman’s years of service and his dedication to the most ill and impoverished children in Manitoba and Nunavut. His overseas medical volunteering has been disrupted by the pandemic, but he has continued virtual sessions with a group of pediatric intensivist trainees in Cambodia.
- Dr. Maryanne Crockett, Humanitarian Award. Dr. Crockett is a pediatric infectious disease specialist. She is an outstanding clinical and research leader who has nurtured transcontinental healthcare initiatives for children. She has worked on humanitarian responses around the world, including in Albania, Kosovo and Mozambique, and is currently the Director of Research and Knowledge Translation at the Institute for Global Public Health at the University of Manitoba.
- Dr. Heather Watson, Resident of the Year. A strong advocate for resident wellness, Dr. Watson has also focused on improving health and access for marginalized women. In fact, she created her own fellowship focused on psychosocial obstetrics and gynecology. She has leveraged her expertise to promote physician well-being during the pandemic while working to develop treatment protocols for COVID-19 in pregnancy.
- Dr. Kerrie Wyant, Medal of Excellence. Dr. Wyant is a family physician who works with vulnerable populations at the Aikins Street Community Health Centre. She brings her expertise in trauma-informed care to her medical practice and she is a champion of team-based care. She has been pulled into the COVID-19 response for vulnerable patients and inner-city residents, including as a lead with the downtown assessment and testing downtown.
- Dr. Chris and Mairi Burnett, Medal of Excellence. Pillars in the rural medical community, this medical couple met in medical school in Scotland and then spent time in the Republic of Congo and Albania before settling in rural Manitoba. Today, they are based in Niverville where they have built a holistic medicine practice.
- Dr. Demitre Serletis is an epilepsy/pediatric neurosurgeon who has spearheaded a proposal for comprehensive pediatric and adult epilepsy services, including the advancement of epilepsy neurosurgical cases and the opening of the first pediatric epilepsy monitoring unit in Manitoba. Dr. Serletis serves as Director of Epilepsy Surgery, and is also a researcher at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba.
- The Cadham Laboratory leadership team is recognized for spearheading the COVID-19 specimen processing during the pandemic, developing innovative solutions to worldwide shortages in lab supplies and creative changes to speed up turnaround times. The team includes Dr. Paul van Caeseele, Medical Director, Dr. Jared Bullard, Associate Medical Director, and Dr. Kerry Dust (PhD), a scientist specializing in medical microbiology and infectious diseases.
Additional information about the award recipients is available online. A gala celebration honouring the winners will be held this fall.
The Doctors Manitoba awards are the highest honour bestowed upon physicians in the province. An open call for nominations is held every fall and a committee of physicians reviews the nominees and selects the award recipients.
New Restrictions to Combat COVID-19 Spread
Yesterday, Dr. Brent Roussin announced new measures in schools to slow the spread of the virus, recognizing that about 20% of cases right now are in school age individuals. In Winnipeg and Brandon, all K to 12 schools will shift to remote learning starting this Wednesday. Exceptions will be in place for critical service workers’ children, with a definition of what this includes available from Manitoba Education here.
For schools in other regions, they can remain open with additional precautions:
- A shift to remote learning will be triggered at an individual school if there are multiple cases (outside of the same household)
- Schools can require students or staff to stay home for 10 days if they show any symptoms, and will encourage them to get tested
- No extra-curricular activities, except for physically-distanced walks or runs outdoors
- No singing or indoor use of wind instruments
This is in addition to other measures announced on Friday night. These general restrictions came into effect on Sunday and include:
- Limiting outdoor gatherings in public places to five people, and continuing the prohibition on gatherings with visitors either indoors or outdoors on private property
- Allowing restaurants to offer take-out service only, and not allowing any indoor or patio dining
- Limiting retail stores to only 10% capacity or 100 people, whichever is less
- Closing gyms, museums and galleries, and personal services such as salons and barbershops
- Prohibiting indoor sports and recreation, including after school activities, while limiting outdoor sports and recreation to a maximum of five people
- Dance, theatre, music schools and day camps will close
- Prohibiting indoor community, cultural and religious gatherings.
Physicians Playing Key Roles in Vaccine Campaign
We know Manitobans trust the advice from physicians about these new COVID-19 vaccines, and you are playing key roles in many ways with the vaccine rollout.
Nearly 170 doctors are helping out in a new role at two provincial vaccine super sites in Winnipeg, guiding patients who need additional clinical information with their informed consent. Whether its allergies, a specific medical concern, or some hesitancy about the vaccines, this Doctors Manitoba physician team is supporting patients through the process.
Dr. Rebecca Renkas is part of the team, and has found the new role fulfills her desire to pitch in. “I’ve already worked a few shifts at a vaccine super site helping patients with their informed consent, and it’s been a very rewarding experience. I really wanted to help support with the immunization campaign, and I’m now doing so in a meaningful way as part of the Doctors Manitoba informed consent team.”
This is also a new role for Doctors Manitoba, not only recruiting physicians but also overseeing the scheduling and payroll processes. We responded to an urgent request from the province, and we appreciate all the patience from physicians as we rapidly set up an onboarding and scheduling app. Your feedback is making this experience better, and your participation is an exciting way our profession is helping protect Manitobans against COVID-19.
Nearly 200 medical clinics, with about 1,000 physicians, are participating in the community rollout of the vaccine. Doctors Manitoba continues to advocate for larger role for doctors’ offices in the immunization campaign, recognizing this is the preferred location for Manitobans to get the shot, and helps to combat vaccine hesitancy. The supply of viral vector vaccines, like AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, has been an issue and we’ve been pressing for mRNA vaccine to be shared with medical clinics. On Friday, a pilot was launched with six doctors’ offices to test using Moderna, and it sounds like it has gone very well!
Global Physician Health Expert’s Key Advice
Last Thursday at our AGM, Doctors Manitoba hosted Physician Health and Wellness thought-leader and researcher, Dr. Tait Shanafelt. In a timely and relevant presentation, Dr. Shanafelt spoke of the importance of system and organization level improvements needed to help reduce burnout in physicians.
Burnout is an occupational syndrome that is eroding quality of care, reducing access to care, and increasing medical errors. The research is clear that leaders, and all of us, need to take this seriously and address it at the system level by engaging with physicians. This is not simply about ‘being tired’. Individual health practices and strategies are not enough. As Dr. Shanafelt stated, “we aren’t going to resilience our way out of this.” Our most resilient colleagues are still experiencing burnout.
Amongst the many evidence-backed take-aways:
- Increasing professional fulfillment, by having physicians spend at least 20% of their time doing something that has great meaning to them, has a marked impact on decreasing burnout.
- By engaging with physicians to improve their day-to-day work experience and create more efficiencies, organizations can create a foundation for better work-life integration. Each speciality, unit, and sub-group will have its own unique needs. Creating a nuanced and targeted approach is critical and ensuring physicians feel part of the solution is as important, if not more important, than the interventions themselves.
- Interventions that created opportunities for physicians to interact and network with other physicians resulted in even longer-term benefits than providing additional time for administrative tasks. Camaraderie is a protective factor to prevent burnout and is an essential part of what binds doctors together and makes the profession great.
- Physicians are used to showing up to get the job done no matter what. Not only do we need to adapt systems to enable physicians to have time to recover, but we also need to support physicians in becoming more aware of their own level of well-being as a way to take action earlier and gauge the impacts of burnout.
- All health leaders play an important role and need to be trained in the qualities that impact burnout and satisfaction for physicians.
Doctors Manitoba works to support and advocate for the health and wellness of every physician. Specifically, we intend to increase use of our physician health programs and decrease burnout, depression, and suicidal ideation. Our focus in 2021 is on the redevelopment of our Medical Learner Mentorship Program, implementation of the new urban locum pilot program, the use of a health promotion approach to improve awareness of existing programs, and on collaborating with partners to address systemic issues including through our Community of Practice Project.
You can hear Dr. Shanafelt interviewed in a few podcasts below: