In today’s message you can read more about:

Flu Vaccine Changes

Earlier this week, Public Health announced changes to the annual influenza vaccine program including important changes, for which we have advocated, on behalf of Manitoba physicians. 

First, the high-dose influenza vaccine will be available to all Manitobans age 65 and older. Previously, the higher dose was only made available to some people in this age group, such as PCH residents. 

Second, the province’s approach to distributing flu vaccine supplies to physicians and pharmacies has been scrapped, in favour of a new approach. The new approach will look similar to the model used for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, with regular ordering and delivery. Physicians will be able to order every couple of weeks, with regular deliveries to keep vaccine supplies available across the province. 

Under the previous distribution model, physicians and pharmacies were assigned to three rotating groups which meant two of three groups each year had delays of several weeks before getting their first doses. We have heard frustration from our members for years about how the province distributed flu shots. In response to that feedback, Doctors Manitoba created the Flu Shot Share Program, an initiative that helped over one hundred clinics get flu shots sooner. This initiative temporarily addressed a distribution model that was seen as ineffective and unfair by many physicians. 

We have been working hard with Manitoba Health for many months on how the distribution system could be improved. Our work focused first on COVID-19 vaccines, leading to the regular ordering program now in place. This approach will now be used for influenza vaccines starting this fall. We remain in contact with Health officials to ensure that the new program is a great experience for our members.

Please read the full update from Public Health here.

Please watch for further updates over the summer months as the new distribution plan rolls out. Be aware that all clinics will need to enroll with Manitoba Health to participate, and that enrollment will open soon. For those clinics who have previously participated in the COVID-19 vaccine program, expect a similar ordering process. Details about the program will be posted on Manitoba Health’s website here, and DRMB will be alerting you to important deadlines in the weeks and months ahead.

ER Updates

We are making weekly updates to Rural​Care​.ca, our new public awareness tool to support Manitobans in accessing care amidst frequent and widespread rural and Northern ER closures.

Over the last few days, Southern and Prairie Mountain RHAs released significant updates for reduced ER operations for the summer. 

Updates by region include:

Prairie Mountain Health (check current RHA schedule here)

  • Carberry and Glenboro ERs, which have a shared schedule, will both be closed July 8 at 3:30PM to July 11 at 8AM 
  • Melita ER will be closed for the summer, according to Prairie Mountain Health. 
  • Treherne ER will also remain closed for the summer.
  • Souris ER will remain open, but will be closed on Mondays and Wednesdays starting this week
  • Grandview ER will remain open, but will move to reduced hours of 8am-8pm Monday to Friday.

Southern Health (check current RHA schedule here)

  • Notre Dame ER in Southern, which had a few periodic closures this week, will move to reduced hours effective July 11. The ER will be open daily starting Monday from 8am to 8pm.

Interlake-Eastern (check current RHA schedule here)

  • Pine Falls ER is temporarily suspended, and it appears that will continue until at least the end of July. 
  • ERs in Beausejour, Eriksdale and Arborg continue to have many shifts with no doctor available.

Northern (check current RHA schedule here)

  • No ER closures noted. 

Learn more about why we launched Rural​Care​.ca for Manitobans.

Winnipeg ER Wait Times Growing

Meanwhile in Winnipeg, ERs continue to struggle with staffing shortages leading to long wait times. The median wait time across all Winnipeg ERs and urgent care centres was 2.97 hours in May, a record high according to public reporting that goes back to 2014. Shared Health and WRHA explained that increasing patient volumes in ERs and urgent care centres are a contributing factor, noting that volumes were up 3 – 6% (2550 visits per day) in May. 

In an update posted a few days ago, Shared Health and WRHA outlined several initiatives underway based on feedback they say they received from physicians and staff. This includes providing weekend home care to facilitate faster discharges, creating a staffing pool of experienced nurses, exploring self-scheduling for staff, and improving the orientation program for new nurses. 

Free Park Entry

The Manitoba government is once again offering free entry to provincial parks for a full week from July 11 – 17, including Canada’s Parks Day weekend, so visitors can take advantage of the province’s parks and all they have to offer. Vehicle permits will not be required at any provincial park from July 11 to 17 but overnight camping fees still apply along with fees to national parks.

This is an excellent opportunity for you to promote a visit to a provincial park with your patients, emphasizing how even just two hours in nature can improve one’s health and well-being. Of course, this is a natural extension of the Park Prescription initiative for national parks. Through PaRx, Canada’s national nature prescription program, physicians can register to prescribe a national park pass to a patient. Medical research has shown a direct correlation between wellness and time spent in nature, with nature prescriptions being named one of the top eight global wellness trends in 2019. Nature prescription programs have been implemented around the world to address mental and physical health problems. At this critical time for health and wellness, with COVID-19 continuing to take its toll on Canadians, physicians can promote the mental and physical health benefits of getting outdoors. Physicians have to register first with the PaRX program to be able to prescribe park passes. To register, complete this form.

How finances are different when your spouse is a physician

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Workshop: Your Life After Retirement

Retirement is an important life stage for physicians. Most information on retirement focuses on financial considerations and the practical aspects of closing a medical practice. Those discussions are certainly important but also limiting, as they miss an essential aspect of retirement — how to develop a meaningful and rewarding life after medicine.

Join us for an interactive, half-day workshop on September 15, from 9am to 12:30pm. Facilitated by Dr. Philippe Erhard and hosted at the Doctors Manitoba office at 20 Desjardins Drive, the workshop is designed specifically for physicians contemplating retirement or fully retired. It will help to manage this important life transition by answering the following questions:

  • Who am I now?
  • What will I do?
  • How will I keep intellectually and socially active?
  • How will I organize my days?

The process is practical and will address other important issues such as ageism, flexibility and renewed relationships. Participants will be able to:

  • Identify common obstacles to a successful retirement ‑Develop plans for a meaningful life with a renewed identity
  • Develop structures to avoid mental, physical and social stagnation
  • Organize their days in a leisurely fashion

Learn more and register now. Space is limited. 

Health System Updates

COVID Updates

Public Health posts weekly COVID-19 Surveillance Reports on Thursdays. This week’s report, which is again showing​“decreased activity,” covers the week ending July 2. Highlights include:

  • Severe outcomes from COVID-19​remained at a low level, very similar to the week prior. There were 46 hospital admissions, steady from 46 the week before. This includes 7 ICU admissions, up from 5 last week. Hospital admissions last peaked at 264 the week ending April 16.
  • There was 1 death recorded, the same as the previous week. There have now been 2,047 deaths related to COVID-19.
  • There were 125 lab-confirmed cases reported in Manitoba over the week, down from 157 the previous week. The test positivity rate was 10%, down slightly from 10.9%.

The updated wastewater surveillance dashboard shows ongoing activity at much lower levels than earlier this year.

In Ontario, the province now appears to be in its seventh wave of the pandemic, driven by the BA.5 Omicron subvariant. This declaration was made yesterday by the Ontario Science Table, and later confirmed Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore.

The Science Table cited multiple indicators to support their conclusion that a new wave has started, including wastewater signals, increased hospitalizations and test positivity, and increasing cases in most regions. Current evidence does not suggest BA.5 is more severe or that it will lead to a rise in hospitalizations as large as previous waves,” they say. However, any surge comes at a time when hospitals are already dealing with staff shortages and record wait times.”

It was also noted that people can be re-infected by BA.5 even if you have recently been infected with an earlier strain.” The Science Table’s expert team also noted that the 3rd vaccine dose is critical to protect against severe disease.” Ontarians were also encouraged to use the protective measures that have worked in the past while enjoying the summer.” 

Meanwhile, the latest Omicron subvariant BA.5 has arrived in Manitoba, with current estimates suggesting it accounts for about 10% of cases. Manitoba has followed Ontario and other larger provinces by a weeks for previous waves. 

Lung Cancer Screening

CancerCare Manitoba received funding from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer to develop an organized provincial lung cancer screening program. Work is underway to develop the needed components. In an effort to include vulnerable populations who may be at high risk of developing lung cancer, CancerCare would like participants to be able to self-refer for an eligibility assessment. They need assistance from physicians and clinic groups that may be interested in taking on a small portion of these patients who are not successfully attached through Family Doctor Finder. The project estimates that approximately 10% of participants, or 100 people annually, may not have a primary care provider and about 25% of those, or 25 people, may have actionable incidental findings. Find out more here or contact jbras@​hsc.​mb.​ca for more information. 


Here are some of our most read and notable recent updates, in case you missed them:

DRMB in the News

Upcoming Events

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