In today’s message you will find:

Meet our First Physician of the Week for 2023

For 2023, we have established a new way to recognize dedicated and hardworking physicians. The Doctors Manitoba Physician of the Week will exemplify the best of the medical profession, including a commitment to delivering exceptional patient care, to supporting the health and wellness of their colleagues, and/​or to leadership in the medical profession.

→ You can suggest a colleague as Physician of the Week here.

Physician of the Week 

Dr. Saima Manzoor is a family physician who has lived in Northern Manitoba for nearly a decade. She is valued by her colleagues and the community for her dedication to patient care. 

Dr. Manzoor grew up in Pakistan where she trained in medicine and began her medical career in a Welfare Hospital with a focus on women’s health. She moved to Ottawa in 2005. As an IMG with young children, she initially worked as a sonographer. After moving to Gillam, Manitoba in 2013, she wanted to support the small, isolated community using her original training and pursued getting her education and experience recognized here through the Manitoba Licensure Program for IMGs (MLPIMG). She relocated to Thompson where her main focus has been primary care at the Thompson Clinic and hospital care at Thompson General. 

Getting back into medicine in Canada is a personal and professional achievement Dr. Manzoor does not regret. My proudest professional moment was getting my CCFP and attending the convocation in Toronto,” she says. This reminded me of my first convocation back home. It’s hard to explain the hardships as an IMG to start all over again at a new place with uncertainties, barriers, and a lack of extended support.”

Working in a remote and isolated community was also a reminder about why she was drawn to medicine in the first place. 

I like working for people in an impactful way and being able to make a difference in their lives. The best part about practicing medicine is the satisfaction of providing a wide variety of care and support including physical, psychological, and even moral support which is rewarding.”

Because of the break she faced in practicing medicine after moving to Canada, Dr. Manzoor has a unique perspective about valuing her chosen profession. Medicine is not just a profession, it’s a lifestyle which is not easy to give up. I strongly believe that the rewards of being a physician are extensive and everlasting. The value of building a trusting relationship with patients and the satisfaction of sharing compassion outweighs any other incentives.” 

While medicine has been personally and professionally rewarding for Dr. Manzoor, she is worried about physician workload and burnout. My real concern right now is the shortage of physicians in Manitoba,” she explains. This will impact the practicing physician with an increased demand for work leading to increase chances of error which can negatively affect the quality of patient care.” 

Dr. Manzoor has become involved with Doctors Manitoba advocacy to address the shortages and better support physician wellness. I am passionate about physician health. I consider it a strong determinant of patient’s and ultimately the community’s health.”

Dr. Manzoor has three children. She enjoys making her favourite family recipe, Chicken Biryani, for family, friends and colleagues. Her favourite movie is Wonder, a coming-of-age drama. The interesting thing about the movie is a rare disorder in a young boy leading to the disfigurement of his face and its impact not only on the boy but also on the family and friends.”

Respiratory Virus Updates

Surveillance Update

Manitoba Public Health produces a weekly report on respiratory viruses. Below are highlights from this week’s report.

COVID Surveillance

This week’s report covers the week ending December 31 and shows similar activity for COVID compared to recent weeks. Overall, laboratory detection decreased compared to the fall of 2022. Older adults continue to be at higher risk for COVID-19 infections and associated hospital admissions and fatalities. Highlights include:

  • There were 50 hospital admissions, down from 59 when we last reported for the week ending December 10 and a steady decline over the last five weeks. This week included 12 ICU admissions, down from 15 when we last reported. Weekly hospital admissions last peaked at 264 in the week ending April 16.
  • There were no COVID deaths recorded over the last week. 
  • There were 134 lab-confirmed cases reported in Manitoba, down from 154 when we last reported.
  • The test positivity rate was 11.1%, down slightly from 11.4% when we last reported.

A new variant, XBB.1.5, is emerging as dominant in some jurisdictions. Nicknamed the kraken variant” by some, this omicron subvariant has been rising quickly in the U.S, with the CDC projecting it to account for 40% of cases and as much as 70% in the northeastern U.S. It has been detected in 29 countries, including Canada, though it’s difficult to know how widely it is circulating here. At this time, it is too early to tell if the XBB.1.5 variant is growing in Canada,” the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) explained earlier this week. 

The World Health Organization has described it as the ” most transmissible subvariant that has been detected yet” though there is no indication the disease severity has changed. 

We are concerned about its growth advantage in particular in some countries in Europe and in the U.S., in North America, particularly the Northeast part of the United States, where XBB.1.5 has rapidly replaced other circulating variants,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Canada has re-introduced COVID testing requirements for travellers arriving from China, Hong Kong and Macao in response to a surge in cases there. 

Influenza & RSV

Influenza activity continues to be high, but is decreasing. Though earlier this season children below the age of five years were observed to have the highest risk for influenza infection compared to other age groups, in week 52, people aged 65 years and older had highest influenza infection rate. At the national level, influenza A detection continued to decrease in the last few weeks. Overall, activity of influenza this season started to increase earlier than would be expected and is now within expected levels for this time of year. 

  • Test positivity for influenza A was 6.0% this week, down significantly for 27.2% in our last report for the week ending December 10. The predominant strain circulating right now is still Influenza A (H3N2), with 108 lab confirmed tests and 0 cases for Influenza B.
  • There were 20 hospital admissions as a result of flu/​RSV.
  • There were 1,855 respiratory related visits to EDs in the province this week, down from 2,209 the week ending December 10.
  • RSV is also circulating with a 10.9% test positivity rate, up from 5.4% the week we last reported.

Children’s Hospital Situation

Shared Health provided an update this week emphasizing that the pressures on Children’s Hospital remain challenging. The Pediatric ICU continues to see a high patient count being largely driven by RSV and influenza, with 15 patients admitted earlier this week when the normal capacity is 9. There were also 46 patients in the neonatal ICU

Surgeries continue to face some postponements to allow staff to support the surge in critical care admissions. So far, 11 surgical cases have been postponed. 

The ER continues to be busy, with about 130 – 135 patients per day, but less so than in November which averaged 170 visits per day. While volumes are down, there is still a much higher mix of acuity than normal. 

Shared Health continues to maintain Kid​CareMB​.ca with resources for parents and caregivers.

Backlog Eliminated for Cardiac Catheterization

Like many areas over the last few years, cardiac catheterization procedures (angiography and percutaneous coronary interventions) were disrupted during the pandemic creating a significant backlog. As a result, the wait list in this area more than doubled, reaching over 550 patients early last year. According to CIHI, for example, the volume of percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) dropped during the pandemic by 7.8% in Manitoba (2020÷21 compared to 2018/19)

Since then, the wait list has been reduced significantly to about 200 patients, which is at or below pre-pandemic levels. Wait times have also been reduced to within national benchmarks. Through the hard work of the cardiologists and other health care workers in this area, the team have eliminated the pandemic backlog. 

This was difficult to achieve during repeated pandemic waves and disruptions.

Manitoba’s cardiac program is recognized as a national leader, with strong quality performance. For example, CIHI found that Manitoba had a lower 30-day readmission rate following PCI than the national average (5.8% in Manitoba vs. 6.7% nationally).

Earlier this week, the provincial government tweeted that people who need a cardiac catheterization procedure may be able to travel to the Mayo Clinic for the short term to access care. The tweet was deleted soon after, but provincial officials said through the media that the tweet was premature, but work is underway on a contract for out-of-country care for this procedure (see Free Press story here). We have contacted the Diagnostic and Surgical Task Force for additional information about this initiative, as it is not clear why out-of-country capacity for cardiac catheterization would be needed when it appears the backlog has been eliminated. 

Doctors Manitoba responded to the media with some concerns about yet another out-of-province contract when capacity could be built up in Manitoba. Hearing about another contract to send patients out of province for medical care really evokes mixed emotions for physicians. While any action to get patients care sooner is welcome news, we’re concerned about the growing number of contracts for care in other provinces or in the U.S. instead of focusing on building up capacity right here in Manitoba.”

Physicians looking for more information on cardiac catheterization referrals can use the Cardiac Sciences website here.

ICYMI — Recent Top Posts

December was a busy month, so we’re highlighting the top 5 recent posts, in case you missed them.

1. New Physician Health Number / Expanded Service

We have expanded our 24/7 Physician and Family Support Program and it now has a new phone number, 1 – 844-433-DRMB (18444333762). The service is available to all members, including medical learners, with over 500 members and family-members using this program annually. Learn more about the change here.

2. Update on Modernizing our Board

See this update last month that outlines final recommendations to modernize our board and improve how we represent you, our members. These recommendations include changes to the medical districts and board composition, while strengthening the requirement for the Board to be guided by member feedback and to strive for an inclusive Board that reflects the professional and personal diversity of our membership. See the summary here and how to send us your feedback.

3. CMA President-Elect Candidates

It’s Manitoba’s turn to choose the next President-Elect of the CMA and the candidates were unveiled last month. You can still join the CMA to ensure you can participate when voting begins on February 22. We will have profiles on the candidates in our newsletter next week! Learn more.

4. Progress with Government on Physician Priorities

We provided an update last month on progress we are making with government on responding to recommendations we have made on behalf of the profession, particularly to address causes of burnout, administrative burden, and the physician shortage. This includes short-term actions under the government’s $200 million health human resource plan. Find out more about how negotiations are proceeding on the Master Agreement. Read the update here.

5. Read our Year in Review

Check out our year in review for 2022, including the content and resources from us that you accessed the most last year. Fun fact: our website had nearly 500,000 views last year. Find out what physicians accessed the most and how it might be useful for you.

CME 2021 Rebate Extension

The deadline to apply for a rebate on your 2021 continuing medical education (CME) expenses has been extended to January 31. You can claim up to $3,800 in CME expenses for 2021, in addition to the pandemic education rebate. Learn more about what is eligible here.

We will be contacting eligible physicians who have not yet applied next week. However, you can also contact Barry Hallman to check if you have not yet applied by emailing him at bhallman@​doctorsmanitoba.​ca.

Fantastic Physician

Dr. Gigi Osler was named one of Ace Burpee’s Top 100 Most Fascinating Manitobans for 2022, being described as an in-person and online lifeline. In late September Dr. Osler was appointed to the Canadian Senate. Dr. Osler was the first female surgeon and the first racialized woman elected president of the Canadian Medical Association, where she led the development of the CMA’s first policy on equity and diversity. Congratulations Dr. Osler!


Upcoming events are always listed on our events calendar.

Featured Event

STBBI Webinar Join us on January 18 for a webinar focused on sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) in Manitoba. Hosted by Doctors Manitoba and led by Manitoba Public Health, the webinar will look at the current epidemiology of STBBIs, testing and treatment, as well as how physicians can play a role in Public Health’s strategy to tackle rising STBBI rates. This a review of new tariffs available to physicians to claim for completing new public health reporting forms. Presenters will include Dr. Brent Roussin, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, as well as Medical Officers of Health Dr. Santina Lee and Dr. Pierre Plourde. Questions can be submitted in advance or asked live during the Q&A segment. 

Date: Wednesday, January 18
Time: 6:30PM
Register: Register here to participate

Other Events

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Mindfulness (CBTm) for Physicians and Medical Learners — 5 Module Course- Begins January 19

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Mindfulness (CBTm) for Physicians and Medical Learners — 10-week Virtual Workshop — Begins January 24

Quit multiplying by zero: leveraging LEADS to enhance physician wellbeing — Online Workshop — Thursday, January 26 4 – 8pm

Creating Healthy Work Culture through Trauma-Informed Leadership — March 3 & 4

Canadian Women’s Heart Health Summit — April 28 & 29Canadian Sexual Exploitation Summit — May 3, 4, & 5