COVID-19 and the South Island MSA

At the Executive meeting last week, the decision was not to hold an in-person meeting of the MSA to discuss Covid-19 and its implications for the medical staff. Getting all the doctors together in one room at the start of an epidemic didn’t seem wise. (I live in hope that we can again have 250 doctors attending an MSA meeting, like they used to!)

What we have done:

– Many physicians weren’t able to access the two previous townhalls; The MSA has provided feedback and expects this to not be an issue moving forward.  We will monitor that, and I would appreciate your feedback.

– We have also requested that Island Health use this as a learning opportunity.  Crisis situations like these will present themselves 5-8 times in a physician’s career.  Learning from and preparing for these situations are essential.

– Communication and a source of truth is really important. In a sea of amateur virologists on social media, it is important to get good information from those who should know. Dr. Bonnie Henry is our best source of information for BC, with her press conferences and website for healthcare professionals available online. The problem is that while the latter gives good advice, it does not answer the specific questions that many of my colleagues have asked.   I have attended several meetings to get up-to-date information, and while the audience for each has been different, the questions are essentially the same. People want to know how to translate directions into what they should do in their own locale, and also what arrangements are been made for support within their clinical practices.

– These questions and answers should be readily accessible, so that EMDs do not have to spend time repeating them, and so allow them to devote time to other tasks.

– Some of these questions will have to be answered within departments or divisions. Some may not be answerable, either because we don’t know or have not yet thought of them. That is okay, unfortunately we are having to learn as we go to some extent.

Your Help in Improving Communications:

– We’d like to have one member of each department/division act as ‘Information Organizer’ for COVID-related communications between their team and the MSA/Island Health.  These key contacts will be compensated for their time through FE funds.  Please have your Information Organizer contact

– At SI MSA we have established our own “Zoom” account, with the ability to hold an online meeting with 100 participants.  We will be happy to share it with any department or division that wishes to use it.  As long as we do not have any patient identifiable information discussed, it should suffice for our purposes. Further details will be shared with Information Organizers.

Final Point:  iHealth:

Concern was expressed to the Executive that, while all this was going on, in addition some nursing units were being required to change to narrative charting in Cerner. Not only had this not been discussed with the medical staff, in light of Covid adding such a change burden makes no sense.  I and Dr. Catherine Jenkins, our newest executive member specifically tasked to be our point person for iHealth changes, have been assured that it will not be advanced at this time, nor will it be advanced without proper consultation and feedback from the medical staff.

Wellness Resources:

Don’t forget to take time for yourself as well.  We’ll ensure these and others are on our website:


The situation is changing at least daily, and your MSA will keep you informed to the best of our ability. We advocate for the legitimate needs of physicians (and other clinicians), and the Health Authority is clearly aware that success in dealing with this plague will only come through the efforts of the medical teams, from cleaners and food servers to physicians and nurses.


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