Dear Valued Patients,
During these unique times, recommendations for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic from our federal and local governments seem to be changing hourly. On March 15, 2020, the Ontario Medical Association strongly recommended social distancing. They also recommended physicians identify and reduce non-essential visits and temporarily put on hold non-essential care and elective surgery to protect all health-care providers, patients and the public, and most importantly, to manage what is expected to be tremendous demand on the system from spread of the virus. On March 17th, 2020, Ontario declared a state of emergency in order to protect the public. On March 19th, the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) recommended that fertility clinics in Canada engage in the following practices:
1. Conduct consultations by telemedicine or phone
2. Complete current IVF cycles but utilizing freeze-all only
3. Suspend all diagnostic and elective procedures and surgeries
4. Postpone any new cycle starts (IUI, IVF, FET), aside from urgent cryopreservation for oncology, until further notice
The Physicians at the Reproductive Care Centre (RCC) carefully reviewed these recommendations and have chosen to follow these guidelines for the safety of our patients, staff and families. As we have stated in the past, fertility treatments are time sensitive, so your physicians understand it is important that we do everything in our power to complete your cycle within these guidelines.
While taking into consideration that no medical societies are currently recommending to avoid becoming pregnant, small case studies have shown no birth defects to babies born in COVID-19 infected mothers, and there is no documented increased risk to pregnant women, each patient should decide whether they want to cancel their current cycle or proceed with an embryo transfer or intrauterine insemination. Your RCC healthcare team would be happy to discuss your personal fertility journey with you to assist in your decision making process. We hope any cycles that are delayed or cancelled can resume in the next 4-6 weeks. This guidance statement will be revisited at least every two weeks, or as more information becomes available, given that the situation is evolving and changing. Please continue to check our website for regular updates. Additionally, we will continue to monitor our phone lines and our firstname.lastname@example.org email address, so please email us if you would like to schedule a phone consultation with your physician or when you start your Day 1 so we can confirm if we are able to accept new cycles again.
As of March 19, 2020 the new RCC policy is as follows:
- Effective immediately we will not start any new treatments or diagnostic cycles (an exception to this rule would be for patients with cancer who need urgent fertility cryopreservation). Patients can be cycled on birth control pills, which will allow them to be able to resume care shortly after the current restrictions are lifted. Please contact the clinic for further information if you are in the midst of a cycle for directives that apply specifically to you.
- Any established RCC patient who is scheduled to meet with their physician in the near future will be askedto change their appointment to a phone consult, or telemedicine consult, in lieu of an in-person consultation. Please understand this policy is in place to increase social distancing for your and our staff’s wellbeing, and, has become the standard of medical care during this pandemic. We will continue to offer phone consults throughout the COVID-19 crisis so you are prepared to resume treatment cycles after the current restrictions are lifted.
- Your RCC front desk, phlebotomy, ultrasound and nursing teams will need to be in the offices to continue to provide you with exceptional fertility care in these trying times. However, we will also begin to transition staff to work at home as feasible. Your physical care will continue (blood draws, ultrasounds, etc.), but any questions outside of this care will be managed via phone after you leave the office.
- We also will require that you attend your scheduled appointments alone. Effective immediately, we will not permit anyone to attend the appointment with you, including children. This is for your safety, and the safety of our patients and employees.
- For your medical team’s health and your own, please do not come to the clinic if you exhibit signs of COVID-19. The symptoms associated with this virus include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. These symptoms are consistent with the flu virus. If you have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days, or if you have been in close contact with a confirmed or probably case of COVID-19, or if you have been in close contact with a person with acute respiratory illness that has travelled in the last 14 days you will not be permitted to enter the clinic. Please contact Telehealth and/or your local public health authority to obtain information on next steps regarding your possible COIVD-19 management. If you are experiencing a medical emergency please call 911.
For any change, your clinical team will keep you informed of your next steps. RCC understands the emotional and medical toll that cancelling a cycle or delaying treatment can cause patients. We know that you may find your fertility journey temporarily halted after months of planning, testing, and trying. We truly believe implementing these changes is what is needed for each of us to help flatten the curve. Please know that we remain committed to your safety, wellbeing, and success on your path to parenthood. We look forward to resuming treatment at a time that is safe and in the best interests of your future family building goal.
Please make sure your contact information with RCC is current so that we know how best to reach you. Follow us on our website, rccfertility.com, and our Facebook or Instagram for updates.
Be safe and well,
Dr. Shannon Corbett
The Reproductive Care Centre