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New policy requires unvaccinated Sask. doctors to declare status to patients

Saskatchewan has implemented a policy that forces unvaccinated doctors to declare that status to their patients before seeing them.

New policy requires unvaccinated Sask. doctors to declare status to patients
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell
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Saskatchewan, like most other provinces in Canada, has mandated a policy requiring health-care workers to show proof of vaccination or submit to regular COVID-19 testing to maintain their employment.

As of the first week of November, according to an article by the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) reported that of 44,000 employees, 1,100 have chosen regular testing instead of providing proof of vaccination. There are also sometimes further policies instituted by individual hospitals, as well as by separate governing and regulatory bodies for the various health occupations.

Enter: the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS)

In a bold move on Nov. 23, a letter from the CPSS went out to all physicians who are members. A copy of the letter began circulating on social media that evening, and Rebel News has since verified the document's legitimacy through the CPSS.

The letter advises members of a new “expectation statement” surrounding what is expected of “physicians who are not fully vaccinated and delivering in-person patient care,” which reads as follows:

For the duration of the pandemic, all physicians who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and are providing in-person care, must proactively declare this status to patients requiring in-person care.

Several clarifying statements are made to define certain terms.

Of note is that “Duration of the Pandemic” has been defined as “For as long as the State of Emergency for COVID-19 from the Government of Saskatchewan remains in effect for the province.”

It also clarifies that “not fully vaccinated” means “less than two immunizations with any of the recognized vaccines required for immunity or (one dose of an approved single-dose vaccine will count as fully-vaccinated).”

As for what this “personal declaration” will look like? That is clarified also:

Where a patient contacts a physician’s office to arrange for in-person care (by phone, email or any other communication modality) that the office staff must advise the patient that the physician is not fully immunized, and that the patient will be given the choice whether to see the physician.

For walk-in situations, office staff will inform the patient upon their arrival, prior to “exposure” to the unvaccinated physician, then the patient can choose whether to see that doctor, see someone else, or leave and attend another clinic.

In emergency situations, the doctor is expected to implement all reasonable precautions to assist the patient.

Fully vaccinated must follow public health measures, but don't have to declare vaccine status

As a final note, the document advises that even fully immunized physicians must still follow all other public health measures, including masking and isolation requirements; however, they do not have to declare their vaccine status to patients.

Now, I have been speaking with several health-care workers for weeks now — physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and more — who are concerned about the proof-of-vaccination policy to begin with.

Most choose to remain anonymous due to vocational or social retribution, but a few have spoken publicly online or at protests, expressing concern with everything from the ethics of vaccine mandates, to the logic and scientific reasoning behind them, especially as data continues to emerge showing that despite efficacy in decreasing hospitalizations and death, the vaccine does not stop transmission of the Delta variant.

This has even been admitted by Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization, among other notable public health policy advisors.

COVID rates climbing in highly vaccinated countries

Further, several countries with very high vaccination rates are seeing cases surge, including but not limited to Ireland, Gibraltar and Belgium.

We have also seen this happen in fully vaccinated organizations and events in Canada, such as the recent outbreak in an Ontario hockey league. Further, Saskatchewan has vaccinated more than 70 per cent of the entire population, the original target to meet herd immunity.

Yet, cases still surge and the mandates persist.

As seen with this CPSS letter, bureaucrats continue to spiral into more invasive measures, including what seems to be some kind of ceremonial punishment, rather than something which will actively protect patients.

Thus, this letter has raised even more alarm from the health-care workers I’ve spoken to.

Concerns raised by health-care workers

While they have asked to remain anonymous, here are a few concerns I received from both practicing and retired Saskatchewan health-care workers on this new declaration policy:

  • It will provoke unnecessary fear for patients during low-risk encounters, especially since data shows both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated physicians can spread COVID-19
  • Under-served patients may be too fearful to seek out care and may not be able to find another doctor. This will affect society’s most vulnerable, especially in rural or remote regions where limited physicians are available
  • It severely undermines patient confidentiality. If a doctor isn’t able to keep his/her own medical history confidential, how can a patient possibly trust the health-care system with theirs?
  • It may cause patients to question if they themselves should be getting vaccinated, or getting further vaccinations if they are partially vaccinated. This could easily provoke frank discussion on the reasons for why a physician has refused the vaccine, which would lead into both ethics and medical discussion. Is this really what the CPSS wants?
  • It is a gross violation of medical ethics to force anyone — this includes physicians, who are citizens with rights, as well — to publicly share medical data about themselves. Especially when that information is being relayed to the patient by a third party (office staff). The division between the unvaccinated and vaccinated among the general population is obvious. Knowing this, is it fair or reasonable for a physician to not even be allowed to defend his/her own scientific reasoning and medical ethics to a member of the general public (the potential patient), if they have questions or concerns? Does this not lead to potential for incorrect negative assumptions and the smearing of a physician’s character?

Overall, one message was clear from the many caring, intelligent health-care workers I’ve had the pleasure to speak with about COVID vaccine policies in general, as well as this specific issue:

They know where this all leads, and that this is a bad path. They’re trying to warn us.

They have many other messages too, including their censored medical concerns on everything from vaccines to masking and lockdowns, including the arguments made earlier about transmission.

Suffice it to say, however, that the government and various policy-makers, apparently including the CPSS, are making it very hard for these dedicated, caring health-care workers to do what they believe is in the best interest of the patient.

It's all for our health, right?

As for whether this is all for our health, as the popular refrain goes: these health-care workers believe that question needs to be explored.

Most especially the question of whether this constant coercion and medical segregation are actually going to actually get us out of this mess. Unfortunately, some of the best and brightest among us — the brave medical staff and physicians trying to ask these questions of the government and policy makers — are being silenced.

I guess that is just the new normal: shaming the amazing people, ones lauded as heroes for the first 20 months of the pandemic, risking their careers and reputations to fulfill what they see as their ethical obligations to their patients, all over one injection.

Perhaps, folks, it is time to heed the warning I spoke of earlier. This is a bad path for health care, and for humanity.

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  • By Ezra Levant

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