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   Table of Contents - Current issue
April-June 2023
Volume 28 | Issue 2
Page Nos. 0-88

Online since Friday, March 24, 2023

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Cover Artist - Linda L. Kelly p. 0
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Replace me... please? p. 43
Peter Hutten-Czapski
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Remplacez-moi... S'il vous plaît. p. 44
Peter Hutten-Czapski
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President's Message – A national advanced skills and training program for rural practice p. 45
Sarah Lesperance
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Message de la présidente. Un Program national de compétences et formation avancées pour la pratique en milieu rural p. 46
Sarah Lesperance
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Urban-rural divide in COVID-19 infection and vaccination rates in healthcare workers in British Columbia, Canada p. 47
Annalee Yassi, Stephen Barker, Karen Lockhart, Deanne Taylor, Devin Harris, Harsh Hundal, Jennifer M Grant, Arnold Ikedichi Okpan, Sue Pollock, Stacy Sprague, Chad Kim Sing
Introduction: Healthcare workers (HCWs) play a critical role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Early in the pandemic, urban centres were hit hardest globally; rural areas gradually became more impacted. We compared COVID-19 infection and vaccine uptake in HCWs living in urban versus rural locations within, and between, two health regions in British Columbia (BC), Canada. We also analysed the impact of a vaccine mandate for HCWs. Methods: We tracked laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections, positivity rates and vaccine uptake in all 29,021 HCWs in Interior Health (IH) and all 24,634 HCWs in Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), by occupation, age and home location, comparing to the general population in that region. We then evaluated the impact of infection rates as well as the mandate on vaccination uptake. Results: While we found an association between vaccine uptake by HCWs and HCW COVID-19 rates in the preceding 2-week period, the higher rates of COVID-19 infection in some occupational groups did not lead to increased vaccination in these groups. By 27 October 2021, the date that unvaccinated HCWs were prohibited from providing healthcare, only 1.6% in VCH compared with 6.5% in IH remained unvaccinated. Rural workers in both areas had significantly higher unvaccinated rates compared with urban dwellers. Over 1800 workers, comprising 6.7% of rural HCWs and 3.6% of urban HCWs, remained unvaccinated and set to be terminated from their employment. While the mandate prompted a significant increase in uptake of second doses, the impact on the unvaccinated was less clear. Conclusions: As rural areas often suffer from under-staffing, loss of HCWs could have serious impacts on healthcare provision as well as on the livelihoods of unvaccinated HCWs. Greater efforts are needed to understand how to better address the drivers of rural-related vaccine hesitancy.
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Systematic review of the use of metformin compared to insulin for the management of gestational diabetes: Implications for low-resource settings Highly accessed article p. 59
Ribal Kattini, Len Kelly, Ruben Hummelen
Introduction: This systematic review examines the effectiveness of metformin treatment compared to insulin treatment for gestational diabetes within the context of a low-resource environment. Methods: Electronic data searches of Medline, EMBASE, Scopus and Google scholar databases from 1 January, 2005 to 30 June, 2021 were performed using medical subject headings: 'gestational diabetes or pregnancy diabetes mellitus' AND 'Pregnancy or pregnancy outcomes' AND 'Insulin' AND 'Metformin Hydrochloride Drug Combination/or Metformin/or Hypoglycemic Agents' AND 'Glycemic control or blood glucose'. Randomized controlled trials were included if: participants were pregnant women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM); the interventions were metformin and/or insulin. Studies among women with pre-gestational diabetes, non-randomised control trials or studies with a limited description of the methodology were excluded. Outcomes included adverse maternal outcomes: weight gain, C-section, pre-eclampsia and glycaemic control and adverse neonatal outcomes: birth weight, macrosomia, pre-term birth and neonatal hypoglycaemia. The revised Cochrane Risk of Bias Assessment for randomised trials was used for the evaluation of bias. Results: We screened 164 abstracts and 36 full-text articles. Fourteen studies met the inclusion criteria. The studies provide moderate to high-quality evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of metformin as an alternative therapy to insulin. Risk of bias was low; multiple countries and robust sample sizes improved external validity. All studies were from urban centres with no rural data. Conclusion: These recent high quality studies comparing metformin to insulin for the treatment of GDM generally found either improved or equivalent pregnancy outcome and good glycaemic control for most patients, although many required insulin supplementation. Its ease of use, safety and efficacy suggest metformin may simplify the management of gestational diabetes, particularly in rural and other low-resource environments.
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Surgery in the western Canadian Arctic: The relative impact of family physicians with enhanced surgical skills working collaboratively with specialist surgeons p. 66
Ryan Falk, Dawnelle Topstad
Introduction: Little is known about the surgical needs of rural, remote or circumpolar populations in Canada; these same regions are also home to half of all Indigenous people in the country. In the present study, we sought to understand the relative impact of family physicians with enhanced surgical skills (FP-ESS) and Specialist Surgeons in the surgical care of a mostly Indigenous rural and remote community in the western Canadian Arctic. Methods: A descriptive and retrospective quantitative study was conducted to determine the number and range of procedures performed for the defined catchment population of the Beaufort Delta Region of the Northwest Territories, as well as the type of surgical provider and location of that service, over the 5 years from 1 April, 2014, to 31 March, 2019. Results: FP-ESS physicians in Inuvik performed 79% of all endoscopic and 22% of all surgical procedures, which accounted for nearly half of the total procedures performed. Over 50% of all procedures were performed locally (47.7% by FP-ESS and 5.6% by visiting specialist surgeons). For surgical cases alone, nearly one-third were performed locally, one-third in Yellowknife and the remaining one-third out-of-territory. Conclusions: This networked model reduces the overall demand on surgical specialists, who can better focus their efforts on surgical care that is beyond the scope of FP-ESS. With nearly half of the procedural needs of this population being met locally by FP-ESS, there are decreased health-care costs, better access and more surgical care closer to home.
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Staffing rural emergency departments in Ontario: The who, what and where p. 73
Tyler Randle, Arunim Garg, Vijay Mago, Salimur Choudhury, Robert Ohle, Roger Strasser, Sean W Moore, Aimee Kernick, David W Savage
Introduction: The emergency department (ED) in rural communities is essential for providing care to patients with urgent medical issues and those unable to access primary care. Recent physician staffing shortages have put many EDs at risk of temporary closure. Our goal was to describe the demographics and practices of the rural physicians providing emergency medicine services across Ontario in order to inform health human resource planning. Methods: The ICES Physician database (IPDB) and Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) billing database from 2017 were used in this retrospective cohort study. Rural physician data were analysed for demographic, practice region and certification information. Sentinel billing codes (i.e., a billing code unique to a particular clinical service) were used to define 18 unique physician services. Results: A total of 1192 physicians from the IPDB met inclusion as rural generalist physicians out of a total of 14,443 family physicians in Ontario. From this physician population, a total of 620 physicians practised emergency medicine which accounted for 33% of their days worked on average. The majority of physicians practising emergency medicine were between the ages of 30 and 49 and in their first decade of practice. The most common services in addition to emergency medicine were clinic, hospital medicine, palliative care and mental health. Conclusion: This study provides insight into the practice patterns of rural physicians and the basis for better targeted physician workforce-forecasting models. A new approach to education and training pathways, recruitment and retention initiatives and rural health service delivery models is needed to ensure better health outcomes for our rural population.
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The occasional bone marrow biopsy p. 82
Peter Hutten-Czapski
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Pan-Canadian physician licensure will improve access to care for rural, remote and Indigenous communities across Canada p. 86
Kyle Sue
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