• Sat. Nov 27th, 2021

Impact of COVID-19 on Medical Services is a Key Focus at SMA Virtual Meetings | Saskatchewan

ByMadeleine J. Pierce

Oct 14, 2021

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on medical services was a key topic of discussion during the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) President and Vice President’s annual tour to connect with members across the province.

The tour had become an annual tradition of the SMA to give the leaders of the organization the opportunity to stay in touch with the members. It switched to a virtual format last year due to the pandemic and this fall’s meetings were also held virtually.

SMA President Dr Eben Strydom and Vice President Dr John Gjevre shared tour responsibilities with one or sometimes both attending these meetings.

The virtual meeting with physicians from the Cypress Regional Medical Association took place on Tuesday evening, October 5th. This was the ninth of 12 virtual meetings, and the last meeting was scheduled to take place on October 13.

Dr Strydom spoke by telephone with the Prairie Post October 6 on the tour and discussions with the doctors.

“A lot of things revolve around COVID of course and the impact COVID has on medical services and waiting lists,” he said of concerns raised by doctors. “Then also the secondary implications that this has on waiting times. We talked about virtual care and in particular in Swift Current, these are the main discussions we have had. Also, the fact that now all elective surgeries have been canceled along with elective outpatient procedures and clinics, and the impact this has on doctors and surgeons. “

He noted that doctors spoke at these virtual meetings about concerns raised by their patients about the cancellation of elective surgeries and clinics.

“They have waited a long time for surgery and because of this wave of COVID they now have to wait even longer,” he said.

Doctors have therefore received questions from concerned patients about other alternatives that may be available. Patients want to know if there are options for receiving care outside the province.

“This is a significant, underestimated issue, the impact COVID has had on the waiting list,” he said. “People are hurting and there’s nothing you can do but say you just have to wait longer. There is no escape and the patients are really suffering from it, but it is frustrating because our job is to help and now we cannot.

The health and well-being of physicians was an important issue for SMA before the pandemic, and COVID-19 is adding immense stress to their work of caring for patients.

“We hear from doctors about burnout,” he said. “There have been polls in the past to get a sense of how serious the situation is, where it is, what can be done, and we know for a fact that burnout is high. We know there are a lot of frustrations with the current situation, the fact that it is overwhelming a large part of our system, and a lot of doctors think it shouldn’t have happened that way. There are also the indirect stresses that come with it, and we see the impacts through the use of our physician health program and the contact they have had with members over the past year, which has significantly increased compared to previous experiences.

In these virtual meetings, doctors explained how disheartening it is to see protests in hospitals against vaccination warrants.

“They mentioned that they were having protests and it’s disheartening to see, despite the fact that there are people in the hospital fighting for their lives in intensive care,” he said. . “And so it’s just another level of stress, the fact that there doesn’t seem to be enough understanding of what’s really going on here. It is not a conspiracy. It’s real, and sometimes you wish you could take people to the hospital and show them and tell what COVID looks like. It’s not what you read on the internet. This is the face of COVID, this is what suffering looks like, and even hearing what some of these patients have to say when they have trouble breathing. It’s hard to see this everyday and deal with it and have this huge disconnect between people finding out too late that they should have been doing certain things. “

He pointed out that the pandemic is causing stress for everyone working in the healthcare system, not just doctors.

“It really affects doctors and healthcare workers,” he noted. “We should never just say doctors. Health care workers – nurses and respiratory therapists and lab technicians and everyone. “

The pandemic has forced doctors to turn to virtual care as a way to continue providing patient care. The use of this tool was mentioned during the virtual visit of SMA.

“We’ve had some feedback regarding the physician funding process, how virtual care is managed and how we plan to go ahead with that to try and make fee schedule codes out of it. permanent while filling the gaps in the current process, “he said.

Dr Strydom pointed out that virtual care is a very convenient tool for physicians, but it is important to consider it only as part of the toolkit at their disposal.

“It made a lot of things easier,” he said. “However, this is not a tool that can be used for all visits of course. So you have to be careful about how to use it appropriately and it is certainly something that doctors and patients appreciate very much. So we expect this to continue and it helps access a lot, especially under these circumstances. “

Another issue that was on the virtual tour’s agenda is the SMA’s commitment to tackling racism within the medical profession and the healthcare system. The SMA’s Board of Directors has created an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee with a mandate to develop initiatives and consult with physicians.

“Racism has been identified as one of the priorities to be addressed in the ADM,” he said. “Over the past year, tremendous efforts have been made to better understand this and for members to better understand these issues. “

The SMA’s Spring Assembly of Representatives in early May included a presentation by Dr. Manuela Valle-Castro, Director of the Social Accountability Division at the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine, on racism systemic.

“It has helped us understand the different types and impacts it has, and how it is maintained in some cases because of the way people see it,” Dr Strydom said. “We have an EDI committee that has been established, it has a budget, and they meet regularly and get feedback from the profession, and they have had preliminary discussions with the relevant members to understand. It’s a process, it’s continuous, and we learn as we go.

During the virtual tour, the SMA shared with the doctors information on the changes in the organizational structure, which will lead to the replacement of the regional medical associations (MRAs) by new associations of medical personnel (SMA). The new SMA boundaries will align with the administrative areas of the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

Dr Strydom said the SMA will continue to use all available opportunities to emphasize the importance of vaccinations in combination with other measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection among residents of Saskatchewan.

“We know this virus is exceptionally virulent, it spreads very, very easily,” he said. “We’re going to be indoors and so the risk just keeps getting higher and higher, and I know for a fact that around Swift Current some of the vaccination is pretty low there. So people have to be very careful, even the vaccinated. Please get vaccinated and be careful. Use all the tools in the social distancing toolkit, don’t travel unless necessary, wear a mask, sanitize your hands to try and reduce the risk of spreading and making this wave worse. “

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