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Together, we are progressing against COVID-19

Despite many factors working against us, New Brunswick has proven to be a leader in how we are responding to COVID-19.

We have one of the oldest populations in the country and one of the highest rates of multiple health conditions. Our health system is stretched beyond capacity in the best of times. And yet, to date, we have not suffered the same fate as most of Canada including our closest neighbours.

Thanks to excellent leadership by Public Health and government, the hard work of health-care providers, and the co-operation of New Brunswickers, we have been successful thus far in mitigating the damage caused by this deadly virus.

But as Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, has said numerous times, we are not out of the woods yet. We must continue to work together to avoid the worst of the pandemic, including a potential second wave of the virus.

As we continue efforts to keep the virus at bay, the New Brunswick Medical Society implores New Brunswickers to continue to follow the guidance set by Public Health but also to manage their health and seek care when they need it. Physician offices across New Brunswick remain open and available to help manage acute and chronic conditions and injuries, review test results, prescription renewals, and other illnesses.

Many physicians are offering virtual visits via phone or video conference in place of regular in-office visits for routine medical issues that can be managed remotely. For in-person care, physicians are following Public Health advice to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission in their office and keep patients safe.

We are in this for the long haul, and where we wind up is difficult to predict. I will echo the sentiments expressed recently by Health Minister Ted Flemming that COVID-19 presents “an opportunity to re-examine how we provide health care, not only in New Brunswick, but around the world.”

The path our health-care system was on prior to the pandemic was simply unsustainable. We have the opportunity to re-examine how we can achieve much more for New Brunswickers, to build a more flexible, stronger health system that can provide better care to citizens.

The multi-party committee and COVID-19 task force have shown that when we work together, we can achieve great things. Physicians are eager to work with government and other health-care stakeholders to play a leadership role in building a more sustainable health system for the future.

Today, however, we must continue to focus on the pandemic that changed our worlds overnight.

Friday, May 1 was National Physicians’ Day, a day to recognize the contributions of physicians across Canada. As president of the NBMS, I would like to thank my colleagues from across the province for their dedication and professionalism, especially during the challenging times we are currently living in. Your efforts are appreciated by all.

To my fellow New Brunswickers, thank you for working with us. Together, we will get through this.

Dr. Chris Goodyear, FRCSC, is a general surgeon in Fredericton and the president of the New Brunswick Medical Society.