In today’s message you will find:

Join us on November 20 for our Annual Awards Celebration at RBC Convention Centre! We will gather (safely and responsibly) to celebrate our 2021 Doctors Manitoba award recipients. Please join us for the physician event of the year — tickets are available now! 

Learn more and get tickets before November 12 here!

In addition to honouring our 2021 Award Winners, the evening will include special guests and important tributes:

  • Greetings from CMA President Dr. Katherine Smart, who is planning to join us in-person! She will also honour the 2020 CMA Honorary Members, including Dr. Arlene Walker, Dr. Carol Holmes, and Dr. Eric Sigurdson. 
  • Recognizing the heroism of Dr. Ken Hahlweg, who tackled the man who attacked a nursing supervisor at Seven Oaks General Hospital last week.
  • A toast to our 2020 award winners, who were recognized with a virtual event last year.
  • A tribute to recognize the impact of the pandemic on physicians and how the medical community has responded from Dr. Candace Bradshaw, President-Elect of Doctors Manitoba.

The event will be hosted by Dr. Michael Boroditsky, Chair of the Awards Committee, and include remarks from Doctors Manitoba President Dr. Kristjan Thompson.

COVID Update

Since our last update on Friday, October 29:

  • Daily cases down: 578 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified, a daily average of 116 (down from 125). This includes 128 new cases today. The total case count in Manitoba now stands at 63,931.
  • Test positivity up: The provincial five-day test positivity rate is 4.9%, up from 3.9%.
  • Active cases up: There are 1,345 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, up from 1,217.
  • Hospitalizations up: There are 106 people in Manitoba hospitals due to COVID-19, a significant increase from 85 on Friday. This includes 23 COVID-related patients in Manitoba ICUs, down from 25
  • Five more people have died from COVID-19. This brings the total COVID-19 related deaths to 1,251.

Southern Health represents 15% of Manitoba’s population but nearly 50% of cases and hospitalizations. While the province’s dashboard shows a test positivity rate of 5%, internal provincial data leaked tothe CBC reports the test positivity rate at 14.2 %. The region reported 29 of the provinces 128 new cases today and has 357 active cases, and the numbers in Southern Health continue to climb with each day of reporting. The region still has the lowest vaccination rate, at 68% vaccinated. The next lowest rate is 82% in Prairie Mountain Health.

According to Health Canada’s tracking, Manitoba had 60 cases per 100,000 over the last seven days, up from 54 on Friday. While this is still the lowest among western provinces, our rate is still higher than all of the provinces east of Manitoba and is now higher than the Canadian average. 

In the less than two years since the pandemic began, over 5 million people have died worldwide. Globally, COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and stroke. At the recent G20 Summit, world leaders highlighted the vaccine inequity between poorer countries and higher income countries. Prime Minister Trudeau announced Canada will increase its commitment to vaccine sharing and will deliver 200M vaccines to lower income countries. 

Vaccine Update

There are several important COVID-19 vaccine updates today.

Booster Shot Eligibility Expanded

Effective today, more Manitobans are eligible for booster shots, a change that aligns with NACI recommendations released last week.

Booster doses should be provided at least six months after the second dose for the following newly eligible groups to maintain their protection against COVID-19:

  • All individuals age 70 and older
  • All First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, on and off reserve, age 18 and older. 

Whenever possible, the third dose should be the same mRNA vaccine as the previous dose, but either is safe to receive. 

A complete list of eligibility is maintained at Man​i​to​baVac​cine​.ca.

Change to 2nd Dose Timing, Moderna Dosing 

Also aligned with new recommendations from NACI, Manitoba is now recommending individuals receive their second dose of vaccine 56 days (eight weeks) after their first dose. Please note that the day the first dose was received is considered day 0.

Previously, the recommendation was 28 days (four weeks). The longer time period between doses has been shown to provide a stronger immune response over time. However, the minimum time frame between first and second doses will remain at 28 days so individuals will be able to choose the timing of vaccine schedule based on their own circumstances. 

Where Moderna is provided for the third/​booster dose, Manitoba is adopting the following NACI recommendation as it pertains to dosage: 

  • For adults aged ≤ 69 years who are living in community: use a half dose (50 mcg; 0.25ml) of Moderna for third/​booster doses. 
  • For adults aged ≥ 70 years who are living in community: use a full dose (100 mcg; 0.5ml) of Moderna for third/​booster doses. 
  • For adults of any age who are living in a personal care home or congregate elderly persons housing site: use a full dose (100 mcg; 0.5ml) of Moderna for third/​booster doses. 

There is no change to first and second dosage for Moderna, nor is there any change to Pfizer dosing for first, second or third/​booster shots.

memo sent today from Dr. Joss Reimer outlines these and other changes. 

Order Now — Pfizer Pediatric Doses

Manitoba is now accepting orders from doctors’ offices and pharmacies for the special pediatric dose of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages five to 11, in anticipation of Health Canada approval. That approval could come as early as November 8, though it could be mid or late November. Canada has secured enough doses for all children in this age group, and it is anticipated vaccine will be distributed within days of approval. 

We strongly recommend pediatricians, family physicians and other specialists sign up and order doses now to avoid a delay when the first vaccine supplies are distributed. 

  • If you have not yet signed up to offer COVID vaccines in your practice, you can register here.
  • If already registered, you should complete the survey distributed by Manitoba Health to request Pfizer pediatric vaccine. This is a new survey, distinct from the weekly order surveys used previously. The initial order survey should focus on ordering enough vaccine for the first 2 – 3 weeks after approval. You can access the ordering survey here.

Doctors Manitoba is anticipating higher levels of vaccine hesitancy or caution among parents for children in this age group. We will be holding a public vaccine town hall to help address public concerns, updating our Man​i​to​baVac​cine​.ca site when the vaccine is approved, and sending facts and key messages to physicians to help you in responding to parents’ concerns. 

Pfizer is planning on holding an information webinar for health providers on the pediatric vaccine after Health Canada authorizes it. You can pre-register now, and then you will be contacted once the session is scheduled. Click here to register.

U.S. authorizes Pfizer for young children

Both the FDA and CDC have recommended approving the Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11, and it was formally authorized last night as announced in this release from the CDC. Children are already receiving their first doses, within hours of the authorization. 

All of the materials reviewed by the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices are available online. This includes a rigorous review of the vaccine efficacy and safety, the risk of COVID-19 infection and serious disease among children, plans for vaccine safety monitoring and other considerations. Ultimately, the Advisory Committee voted unanimously in favour of recommending approval, recognizing that children are at risk from COVID-19 and the vaccine offers a safe and highly effective means of preventing infections. In other words, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. 

Physician Saves Seven Oaks Nurse During Attack 

Last week, we learned about an horrific attack on a nurse manager at Seven Oaks General Hospital. In the days that followed, Doctors Manitoba focused on ensuring those present or working at the site had access to appropriate support following the incident.

This week, we are recognizing Dr. Ken Hahlweg, the physician who intervened and likely saved the life of the nurse manager who was being stabbed. We should note that this story contains some details that could be uncomfortable or triggering for some readers.

We’ve heard from many physicians over the last week who witnessed the event and its aftermath, are colleagues of Dr. Hahlweg, or work at Seven Oaks. A consistent theme from all was praise and appreciation for Dr. Hahlweg’s heroic and selfless action, sentiments we know physicians from across Manitoban share.

Media reports that followed the event document what happened. The attacker, a nurse who worked at Seven Oaks, entered the hospital at about 2:20pm on October 27. He was carrying a large knife, which he used to start violently attacking a nurse manager named Candyce Szkwarek. She fell to the ground, and the attacker approached her and placed the knife on her neck.

Dr. Hahlweg saw the commotion. He recognized the immediate threat and what appeared to be a clear intent to murder Ms. Szkwarek. He responded instantly, on pure instinct,” to intervene and ensure this man could not kill her. He ran straight at the attacker, knocking him off his victim, ending the assault. The attacker turned and ran out of the hospital. Dr. Hahlweg chased the attacker outside, where police were already on the scene and promptly arrested him.

The victim, Ms. Szkwarek, was seriously injured. She had been stabbed in the abdomen and was bleeding from her neck. She was promptly attended to by several physicians and other staff at Seven Oaks, and then transferred to HSC for surgery. She has since been reported to be in critical but stable condition.

Dr. Hahlweg, who is the medical lead at the Northern Connection Medical Centre located at Seven Oaks, has been quick to recognize others involved in the response, including physician colleagues. He hurt his hip and ankle during the attack, which he describes as minor in the grand scheme of things.”

You can hear an interview with Dr. Hahlweg on CBC Radio for more of his story.

Since the incident, we have learned more about other events connected to the Seven Oaks attack. Police have arrested Trevor Farley, age 37, who has been identified as a nurse who had worked at Seven Oaks. Mr. Farley has been charged with attempted murder connected with the attack on Ms. Szkwarek, as well as the murder of his father and mother, both age 73, earlier that day.

Doctors Manitoba will be recognizing Dr. Hahlweg’s brave and heroic act in the weeks ahead, including at our Awards Dinner on November 20.

If you need support following this incident, even if you work at a different location, there are several services available for physicians. Please see review our update from last week for details on the supports available.

New Premier Adopts Physicians’ Priorities

Yesterday, Heather Stefanson was sworn in as Manitoba’s 24th Premier, and she is already signaling that issues raised by Doctors Manitoba are among her top priorities. 

During the leadership campaign, Doctors Manitoba asked both candidates to respond to physicians’ top issues and concerns. Just minutes after her swearing in at the Legislature yesterday, Premier Stefanson said that health care and the economic recovery are among her top priorities. She acknowledged the devastating impact of COVID-19 on Manitoba, and she pledged her government will take immediate” action to address pandemic-related issues. She promised that in the coming weeks, we will establish a task force to clear the surgery and diagnostic backlogs and enhance our ICU capacity.” 

Our President, Dr. Kristjan Thompson, has written to Premier Stefanson today to offer congratulations on behalf of the medical profession, and offer our support in addressing these health care priorities. He also emphasized the importance of seeking physician input on health care issues and proposed changes to the health care system. Doctors Manitoba will continue to work with provincial leaders to ensure physicians’ concerns and priorities are heard, to monitoring progress on addressing these issues, and to press for answers and action as needed. 

Nominate a Colleague! 

DRMB 2022 Awards Nominations are open!

We are pleased to announce that nominations are now open for the 2022 Doctors Manitoba Awards! Nominations are due by December 152021.

As the pandemic continues to disrupt medical care and so many other things in our lives, we don’t want to lose sight of recognizing excellence in the medical profession. The Doctors Manitoba Awards are the highest honour in the province for physicians. There are no shortage of physicians who have been demonstrating excellence this year. For some, this has meant contributing to the pandemic response and vaccination campaign in some way. For others, it has meant persevering during the pandemic to continue their work on patient care, research and other priorities. 

Nominate a colleague today.

There are five different awards available to recognize physicians: 

  • Doctors Manitoba Medal of Excellence – a relatively 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 here.

Nominate Jets Health Care Heroes

Shared Health and the Winnipeg Jets have teamed up to bring youScheif’s Healthcare Heroes. You can now nominate a colleague or peer to be featured and celebrated at a Winnipeg Jets home game. Nominees will have​“stepped up in immeasurable ways, supporting patients, residents and clients navigate the additional stress of accessing health services during a pandemic.” Each home game will celebrate a Manitoban working in healthcare who has made an impact during the pandemic. You can nominate someone here. Nominations are open now, until December 31. A new call for nominees will open in the New Year.

CMA Awards — Call for Nominations

Nominations are now open for the 2022 Canadian Medical Association (CMA) Awards. TheCMA Awards recognize the dedication, successes and talents of Canadians who are making significant contributions to our health and health care. For information on how to nominate a colleague click here. The submission deadline is November 302021.

National Physician Survey Reminder

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is inviting all practicing physicians and medical learners to participate in its 2021 National Physician Health Survey. This is a 
critical time to understand the key factors affecting your practice, daily interactions, lifestyle, and mental health, as well as how the pandemic has affected pre-existing challenges or brought about new ones. By sharing your experiences, you will be supporting the CMA and other stakeholders in identifying the individual and system-level changes needed to better support physicians, create a healthier medical culture and guide our country’s post-pandemic recovery. We will have access to data specific to Manitoba, which will help us inform programming and supports for our members.

The survey should take less than 20 minutes; your time is greatly appreciated. You do not need to be a CMA member to participate. 

Complete the survey by Nov. 15.

New Canadian Prairie Metabolic Network 

The Canadian Prairie Metabolic Network, a Genomics applied partnership program, is exploring an OMICS First approach to diagnosing metabolic diseases in the prairies. The CPMN will address the specialized clinical needs of patients highly suspected of having inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) and evaluate whether starting with an OMICS First” DNA test compared to traditional metabolic and DNA testing can result in a more rapid diagnosis of an IEM and faster access to appropriate care. You can find out more about this collaborative project between the clinical metabolic centres in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta and Discovery DNA, Inc., an accredited genomics laboratory in Calgary, by clicking here.