The CMA is hearing loud and clear from our membership: There are serious concerns about the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) – now and ahead. It’s simply unacceptable that these shortages exist across the country; health care providers must have access to these critical supplies to face this pandemic.
As the number of cases mounts, frontline providers will require increasing supplies and we need to make sure they’re getting to all the areas that need them. Yesterday, we launched a survey with our resident and practising physician members to get a national picture, directly from the frontlines, of the state of PPE supply. We will have results available in just a matter of days and will be sharing them with federal government officials so they know exactly where action is needed to resolve this situation.
It’s good to hear that the federal government is allocating $2 billion to secure Canada’s national supply of PPE through procurement efforts. Further, they’ve signed deals with three Canadian medical companies to make ventilators, surgical masks, tests kits and other medical supplies, and have also signed letters of intention with five other companies for more supplies.
These announcements are encouraging. The CMA will continue to collaborate with federal officials and the PTMAs to ensure this equipment finds its way to physicians and health care teams quickly and efficiently.
Physicians’ ethical obligations
Amid the shortage of PPE, physicians are seeking clarity on their obligation to provide care while also protecting their health. There are several resources available to assist physicians, including the CMA policy on ethical obligations of physicians during a pandemic, CMPA guidance on COVID-19, as well as regulatory college guidance.
The CMA policy outlines the following:
- In the context of a pandemic, it’s critical to ensure proper patient care and physician safety, including ensuring physicians have access to PPE.
- Physicians have an obligation to safeguard their health to support the greatest number of patients throughout the pandemic.
- Health authorities/governments have a reciprocal obligation to protect health care workers.
Expanding access to virtual care
Dr. Mark Dermer, a telemedicine primary care physician, has put together a how-to guide for physicians on introducing virtual care services in their practice. The playbook covers fitting virtual patient encounters into your practice workflow, what technology you will require, what problems can be safely assessed and treated in this way, and other key considerations.
Health and wellness resources
“A clinician’s guide: managing COVID-19 stress and anxiety”, from the CMA’s executive vice-president of physician health and wellness, Dr. Caroline Gérin-Lajoie.
If you are feeling distressed or need personal assistance, please reach out to your provincial physician health program.
Getting involved: Medical students and retired physicians
We’ve been hearing from our medical student and retired physician members that they want to help during this time of crisis, and we’ve put together the below list of resources to guide them:
As a reminder, please don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions or suggestions related to COVID-19. Our Member Service Centre can be reached at email@example.com or toll-free at 1-888-855-2555 (weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm EDT).
Dr. Sandy Buchman