Pandemic Planning for Primary Care

The COVID 19 pandemic has many family physicians taking on additional roles and responsibilities in a rapidly changing health care landscape.  Family physicians are working out how to re-configure their practices, identify what qualifies as essential care and how to adapt to virtual visits.  Family physicians have stepped up to help their colleagues sift through and distil emerging research data, guidelines and screening protocols into clear, actionable messages.  They’ve responded to patients’ COVID19 questions and calls for assistance in assessment centres and emergency departments, all while trying to keep their practices running and their families safe.

What should family physicians do during a pandemic?

Researchers from the Centre for Studies in Family Medicine are interviewing family physicians from the Ontario Health West region to learn from their experiences to inform future pandemic planning.  “Although there has been a recurrent risk of a respiratory illness-based pandemics, existing pandemic plans in Canada do not adequately incorporate family physicians roles and perspectives”, notes Dr. Maria Mathews who is leading the research team.  “It’s important that we learn from what happened during COVID19 so we can be better prepared in the future”.  

The project is looking at family physicians in four regions in Canada (the Vancouver Coastal Health region in British Columbia, the Eastern Health Region of Newfoundland and Labrador, the province of Nova Scotia, and Ontario Health West  region in Ontario) in order to draw upon best practices and key supports across different primary health care systems.   The research team includes community-based physicians, academic researchers, and collaborators from public health, regional and FP organizations.  In Ontario, our team includes Judy Brown, Catherine Faulds,  Tom Freeman, Paul, Gill, George Kim, Sudit Renade, Bridget Ryan, Gord Schacter,  Shannon Sibbald, Steve Slade, Alex Summers, Amanda Terry,  Amardeep Thind, Steve Wetmore, Jaimie Wickett, Eric Wong, and Jennifer Young.

Interviews are currently underway.  The research team in Ontario is particularly looking for fee for service doctors and doctors in urban areas. To share your experiences during COVID19 or learn more about the project, please contact Dr. Maria Mathews or Leslie Meredith, coordinator at .