Member Message — December 16, 2022
In today’s message you will find:
- CMA President-Elect Candidates Announced
- Progress with Government on Physician Priorities
- Respiratory Virus Update
- Health System Updates
- DRMB Holiday Hours
- Health in the News
Manitoba’s CMA President-Elect Candidates Announced
It’s Manitoba’s turn to elect the next President-Elect for the Canadian Medical Association, and this week the CMA released the names of the five candidates who are running! The President-Elect is elected by CMA members in a rotating province or territory every year. The President is the primary national spokesperson for the CMA’s work and advocacy on behalf of the medical profession, as well as CMA representative with provincial and territorial medical associations, government and other stakeholder organizations.
The candidates include, in alphabetical order:
- Dr. Cory Baillie is a rheumatologist based in Winnipeg and current President and Chair of The Journal of Rheumatology. He is also a former President of Doctors Manitoba and of the Canadian Rheumatology Association.
- Dr. Anthony Battad is an internal medicine specialist at St. Boniface hospital and senior faculty in the Max Rady College of Medicine. He is also a former Canadian Forces physician.
- Dr. José Francois is head of the Department of Family Medicine in the University of Manitoba and Shared Health Provincial Specialty Lead for Family Medicine. He also practices family medicine at Centre de Santé and ActionMarguerite in Winnipeg, and he is a former Associate Dean for Continuing Professional Development with UManitoba.
- Dr. Joss Reimer is originally from Winkler and is now the Chief Medical Officer for the WRHA. She continues to practice clinically as a Staff Family Physician Women’s Hospital, HSC, and she is a former Medical Officer of Health and was the Medical Lead for the COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Task Force.
Doctors Manitoba and the CMA will be sharing more information about the candidates in the weeks ahead, with a meet-the-candidates webinar planned for February.
The election period runs from February 22 to March 8, 2023. To vote, you must be a member of the CMA by February 16, 2023. If you are unsure if your membership is current, you can contact CMA member services at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1−888−855−2555. You can join or renew your membership online.
Progress with Government on Physician Priorities
Earlier this week, our President Dr. Candace Bradshaw sent an update about our advocacy and negotiations with government for physicians, following a meeting she had with Premier Heather Stefanson and Health Minister Audrey Gordon. She outlined the two lanes we are pressing for more funding and support for physicians, with the traditional Master Agreement negotiations route for longer-term issues like remuneration increases and more complex changes to remuneration models, and a “fast track” path for more urgent issues. We encourage you to read her update here.
The fast-track path will leverage the government’s $200 million Health Human Resource Action Plan announcement last month to implement one-time or short-term improvements to recruit and retain more physicians in Manitoba. Based on your feedback, we have identified several priorities for government, and one month later we can report they have already acted in three specific areas.
First, the government reversed a directive that restricted physicians working in Access Centres and Community Health Clinics from billing for work completed after hours. The impact of this directive could have resulted in 66,000 fewer patient visits per year, and led to physician retention and recruitment issues. Luckily, the government reversed the Manitoba Health decision.
Second, the government announced this week it will be acting on our recommendation to create a centralized service for physicians to obtain specialist advice and consultation and arrange urgent patient transfers. Called VECTRS (Virtual Emergency Care and Transfer Resource Service), the project will initially focus on emergency medicine specialist consultation and urgent transport, with a goal to launch by May. The current uncoordinated approach can be frustrating and distressing for busy physicians, and fixing it was a key recommendation coming out of our Rural Health Summit earlier this fall.
Dr. Candace Bradshaw explained that “this new service will make it easier for doctors to consult emergency medicine specialists and arrange urgent patient transfers between hospitals, and we hope to see it expand in short order to include other specialists too. Doctors are wasting time on inefficient administrative tasks, but changes like this will help to give us more time to do what we love, and that’s providing medical care to Manitobans.”
You can watch this 2‑minute CBC story about VECTRS, or learn more about the announcement in this government news release. We will be meeting with health system leaders in the weeks ahead to provide physician feedback on how this service should develop, and we invite your feedback on this. You can contact us at email@example.com.
Third, the government has finally approved our request for an expansion of virtual visits to include group psychotherapy, something psychiatrists have requested for a long time. A separate notice has been sent to psychiatrists with further information about this change.
While these actions are quite specific in their focus, we believe there is a broader shift — government is listening to our advice on behalf of physicians and is now starting to take action. We are pursuing additional recommendations with government on a number of other more immediate issues focused on physician recruitment and retention and supporting physician health. We will continue to provide updates as progress is made.
Advocacy Continues on Other Issues
Our advocacy continues in a number of other areas. Our negotiations have begun for the next Master Agreement, to replace the existing agreement that expires in March 2023. You can read more about it in this update from Dr. Bradshaw earlier this week. We recognize there is a large accumulation of issues raised through specialty bloc working groups, and these are firmly on our radar. In family medicine, we are raising how we can improve existing remuneration models, while also pressing for the additional option of a blended model similar to what was recently announced in BC (see this update sent yesterday to family physicians on this matter).
We are also continuing our work to address some immediate crises in health care right now. This includes:
- Working on the temporary additional physician hours in ERs across the province, which are set to expire at the end of December. We are pressing for these to be made permanent, or at least a longer-term extension to make it easier to recruit and fill these shifts.
- Pressing for a solution to the shortage of hospitalists at Brandon Hospital and the significant gaps in coverage starting in January (read more about this here).
- Supporting primary care physicians interested in extending their hours to offer more access for patients.
- Working to support expanded specialist hours to support additional PICU beds at Children’s Hospital.
This is not an exhaustive list. You can always check in on concerns you think Doctors Manitoba might be able to help with by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Respiratory Virus Update
Respiratory Virus Update
Manitoba Public Health has shifted from a Thursday COVID report to a Friday weekly report on respiratory viruses, given the triple virus threat in the province right now. Below are highlights from this week’s report.
This week’s report covers the week ending December 10 and again shows decreased activity for COVID compared to recent weeks. Highlights include:
- There were 59 hospital admissions, down from 76 last week and a steady decline over the last five weeks. This week included 15 ICU admissions, up from 7 last week, but down from 19 the previous week. Weekly hospital admissions last peaked at 264 in the week ending April 16.
- There were fewer no COVID deaths recorded over the last week.
- There were 154 lab-confirmed cases reported in Manitoba, down from 251 the previous week.
- The test positivity rate was 11.4%, down from 14.5% last week.
Influenza & RSV
Influenza activity continues to be high, similar to last week. Case counts are lower than expected because of delays in documentation of lab results in PHIMS.
- Test positivity for influenza A was 27.2% this week, up from 19.5% last week and higher than the 21.5% rate seen nationally. The predominant strain circulating right now is still Influenza A (H3N2).
- Children under the age of 5 are at the highest risk for influenza infection, accounting for 12% of all cases and 20% of associated hospital admissions.
- There were 2,209 respiratory related visits to EDs in the province this week, down slightly from 2,302 last week.
- RSV is also circulating with a 5.4% test positivity rate, up from 4.0% last week and 2.2% the week before.
Earlier this week, we heard about continued pressure at Children’s Hospital (see Shared Health update here). Children’s elective surgeries that are not time-sensitive are being postponed to free up surgical and recovery nurses to help out in critical care units.
Meanwhile, the University of Manitoba is extending its mask mandate for the winter term.
Health System Updates
Bivalent Booster for Children 5 – 11
Manitoba Health advises that a bivalent booster vaccine has been approved and recommended for children aged five to 11. Children in this age group have previously been eligible for a booster dose with the monovalent (original) Pfizer pediatric vaccine. This is the first bivalent booster vaccine available for this age group. This vaccine is being delivered to Manitoba this week and will then be shipped to vaccine sites across the province. The vaccines are expected to become available at sites the week of Dec. 19. However, to ensure children can receive a bivalent booster dose, book the appointment for Dec. 23 or later or check with the provider to confirm availability.
We understand that Shared Health Digital Health is migrating to eChart 2022, to work better with modern web browsers, offer customizable user preferences and flexible screen sizing. See this update for further details. We have received some concerns from physicians with respect to the usere interface and difficulty locating certain information. A training video is available as a first line of support. Digital Health has asked us to collate your concerns to share with them as part of their improvement work. Please send your eChart feedback to email@example.com.
Smoking Cessation Program Expanded
The Tobacco Quit Card and Counselling Program launched on Nov. 28. This program provides counselling and up to $300 in nicotine patches and aids for low-income patients of participating clinics across Manitoba.
Eligible Manitobans will receive:
- A Quit Card redeemable at any Manitoba pharmacy to receive up to $300 in nicotine replacement medication.
- Counselling sessions with a health professional.
- The Commit to Quit online group program (any Manitoban can register for this program at any time).
Who can participate?
- Residents of Manitoba living in any Regional Heath Authority (depending on your health region, eligible individuals may need to be a patient of a participating clinic). See details at www.sharedhealthmb.ca/TQCC.
- Manitobans without insurance to cover nicotine replacement products (nicotine patches, gum and other aids) or who find it difficult to afford these medications.
- Manitobans ready to make a quit attempt within 30 days.
For more information, visit www.sharedhealthmb.ca/TQCC.
- Program to Help Manitobans Quit Smoking Expanded • ChrisD.ca • Dec 16
DRMB Holiday Hours
Please note that the Doctors Manitoba offices will be closed from December 23 to December 27 and from December 30 to January 2. Between Christmas and New Years, some staff are taking vacation. Please continue to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Health in the News
It’s been another busy week of health care news! See below for stories we’ve curated for you, including Doctors Manitoba commenting on rural ER closures and the new VECTRS service.
DRMB in the News
- Fear of closure drove rural MD shortage • Winnipeg Free Press (Print Edition) • Danielle Silva • Dec 16
- Hospitalist shortage now ‘dire,’ PMH says • Brandon Sun (Print Edition) • Dec 13
- VECTRS to provide virtual health support • Brandon Sun (Print Edition) • Dec 16
- New virtual emergency care service coming to rural Manitoba in Spring 2023 • CBC Manitoba • Dec 14
Other Health Care News
- New doctors working as hard as previous generation, study finds • CBC News Nova Scotia • Frances Willick • Dec 12
- Flu siege, RSV force drastic action • Winnipeg Free Press (Print Edition) • Katie May • Dec 15
- Manitoba reports first child death of flu season • Winnipeg Free Press (Print Edition) • Katie May • Dec 10
- Manitoba Clinic financial crisis offers cautionary tale • Winnipeg Free Press (Print Edition) • Dec 12
- Manitoba Interlake emergency room to remain closed until January, Shared Health says • CBC Manitoba • Dec 12
- Optimism in a syringe; side-effects included skepticism, caustic division • Winnipeg Free Press (Print Edition) • Chris Kitching • Dec 16
- Liberal government seeking delay to expanding medically assisted dying program • The Winnipeg Sun • Dec 15
- Daily public health updates ‘should be in the past’: Roussin • Winnipeg Free Press (Print Edition) • Katie May • Dec 14
- Liberals say health administrators should be held to account • Winnipeg Free Press (Print Edition) • Carol Sanders • Dec 12
- Stefanson leads charge for more health money • Winnipeg Free Press (Print Edition) • Danielle Silva • Dec 10
- Virtual walk-in clinics may contribute more strain to health-care system: OMA • Canada.com • Tyler Griffin • Dec 16
- Amid a chronic shortage, B.C. at risk of losing hundreds of internationally-trained doctors • The Free Press • Jane Skrypnek • Dec 14
Here are some important and top-read recent updates, in case you missed them:
- Deadline Approaching: There’s still time to register for our new Dental Plan before December 31! Find our why physicians are signing up.
- Doctors Manitoba joined medical associations from across Canada to call on Premiers and the PM to address the health care crisis and agree on additional funding.
- There’s still time to participate in a survey for public sector workers about government austerity. Learn more here.
- New resources are available focused on pediatric respiratory care. See our recent update for resources from Shared Health and the Canadian Paediatric Society.
- Check out our brand-new Resource Guide for Retirement or Practice Closure!
Upcoming events are always listed on our events calendar.
Feature Event: Quit multiplying by zero: leveraging LEADS to enhance physician wellbeing — Online Workshop — Thursday, January 26 4 – 8pm
This workshop will help you extrapolate LEADS into action to address this critical issue of physician wellbeing. We will define and normalize these concerns, understand stress and how to recognize when it turns into distress. Health will be defined as a shared responsibility between the individual, the culture of medicine and the healthcare system in which we work. We will address how physician leaders can best support their teams at this time. The 5Cs framework for resilience will be defined, and practical strategies to help colleagues to implement this and manage their stress effectively, both in their professional and personal lives. At the end of this workshop, you will be able to identify at least three leadership actions you can take to bring LEADS to life in the service of creating a healthy work environment. Learn more here.