April 3rd, 2020

// OMA Urges Governments to Distribute Personal Protective Equipment and Critical Care Supplies Now

OMA Urges Governments to Distribute Personal Protective Equipment and Critical Care Supplies Now

TORONTO, April 2, 2020 /CNW/ - The Ontario Medical Association is urging immediate government action to distribute personal protective equipment and critical supplies to community-based physicians and other health-care workers in medical clinics, long-term care facilities, primary care practices and other community-based organizations.

Across Ontario, community-based physicians have been flagging, for several weeks, the need for protective equipment and supplies.  A growing number are reporting that they have little or no PPE. As a result, they have had no choice but to dramatically reduce in-person visits or use homemade masks. Others who have no PPE have closed their clinics and are only doing virtual or telephone visits.

"Every day, we are hearing from community doctors that there is a critical shortage of personal protective equipment. Many clinics will soon have to close to ensure the safety of their staff and themselves. This puts providers and the patients in these communities at risk. It also increases the pressure on hospitals, which again increases the risks to patients.  We need urgent action now," said OMA President Dr. Sohail Gandhi.

To date, 10 percent of all COVID-19 positive patients in Ontario are health care providers. It is vital that health care providers stay healthy to provide care to those who may contract the virus in the future, but also to ensure that we are able to continue to effectively care for patients who have other acute health care needs.

More than 1879 doctors recently responded to an OMA survey confirming an immediate need for PPE supplies in the community. About 72 percent of respondents reported that they had a fewer than 5-day supply of surgical/procedure masks. Over 87 percent reported that they had a fewer than 5-day supply of eye shields. A number of respondents answered that they had 0 days' supply of various items.

Evidence has demonstrated that asymptomatic transmission can occur. The risk to patients and health care workers is unknown. Coupled with this, community transmission is also happening.  These two factors have made it difficult to screen out suspected COVID-19 cases. This poses a real dilemma for clinicians if they cannot maintain a safe distance, particularly if they need to physically examine a patient.

Patients with certain chronic and other conditions need in-person medical care as part of their health care management. Others, such as infants and young children, need immunizations and minor procedures. Without access to that in-person care in the community, the only alternative is to visit the Emergency Department, and this is counter-productive to efforts to increase hospital capacity for a potential COVID-19 surge. Patients who have delayed care for their conditions may get sicker and may be hospitalized. This will take up needed beds and places the patient at risk for infections, including COVID-19.

"We applaud the PPE drives that are growing across the province. These efforts reinforce the seriousness of this issue. While we are hopeful this will partially help the situation, the real solution is for government to immediately move PPE and Critical Supply to all front-line community health care workers across all levels of patient care." said Dr. Gandhi.

About the OMA

The Ontario Medical Association represents Ontario's 43,000 plus physicians, medical students and retired physicians, advocating for and supporting doctors while strengthening the leadership role of doctors in caring for patients. Our vision is to be the trusted voice in transforming Ontario's health-care system.   

SOURCE Ontario Medical Association


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