Thu. May 19th, 2022

A Southern Manitoba doctor filed a police report a few weeks ago after finding a disturbing handwritten letter delivered to his home in the Winkler area.

Its author accused him of pressuring the COVID-19 vaccine on patients.

Along with the letter was a kind of tabloid newspaper that contained misinformation suggesting that the vaccination campaign was a compliment of elites to depopulate the Earth, claiming that the immunized would likely die within a few years.

“It was just full of ridiculous conspiracy theories,” said the doctor, whom CBC News does not name because he fears he could become more of a target.

“They have chosen to drop this off, not at the hospital or clinic, not send it, but drop it off at my home, which they somehow sought out … I think there was clearly a threat.”

What the Winkler-based family physician and emergency room physician experienced is part of a new pattern of privacy violations and forms of threatening behavior among threatening mandatory vaccination deadlines this fall.

Some also have to contend with false exceptions.

This week, a patient went to the medical clinic and passed the reception COVID-19 screening without a mask on after presenting a button that said he had a medical exemption.

When pressed, the patient eventually came to buy the button online.

He did not like wearing masks and said “I will not get the needle because I am going to die from it,” the doctor said.

“I had a challenging meeting,” he said.

“We’re kind of back in this stalemate where I can not provide proper care for him if he can ‘t get into the clinic – as if you can’ t just have any rules and let people do what they want, bring everyone at risk elsewhere in the clinic. “

‘Violation of privacy’

Another Winkler doctor, Dr. Don Klassen, said he and his colleagues have regularly encountered patients at the Boundary Trails Health Center who refuse to be tested for COVID-19 or to disclose their vaccination status.

Dr. Don Klassen has practiced at Winkler for decades. Over the past several months, he says, doctors are facing suspicion, criticism and tension from patients unlike anything he experienced before the pandemic. (Tyson Koschik / CBC)

The class also had a similar experience as the other Winkler doctor recently.

About 2½ weeks ago, someone put conspiracy theory literature under his car’s windshield wiper with a handwritten note addressed to him and encouraged him to read the material.

“It’s a violation of privacy,” he said.

The class said in recent weeks that a medical colleague had someone who spread rumors on social media that they were downplaying the true severity of COVID-19.

None of these things would have happened before the pandemic, he said.

It puts some on the edge.

“It’s not like you go to work, and oh boy, you just look behind every door to see what’s coming, but there’s a bit of it, right? Things you just had never thought of before in terms of to practice medicine. “

Doctors Manitoba gets more reports

The experiences of these two doctors are not isolated.

“It’s really heartbreaking,” said Dr. Kristjan Thompson, President of Doctors Manitoba.

“Doctors and health professionals are here to help, and therefore acts of intimidation, aggression, threatening remarks or violence are absolutely unforgivable.”

The organization has heard from many members recently who have had similar experiences, Thompson said.

“This behavior is unforgivable,” he said.

The organization put together a guiding document that was sent to doctors Thursday to help them navigate threatening or aggressive situations. Thompson also wants more doctors to report incidents to Doctor Manitoba.

He has had his own meetings.

Thompson works in an emergency room in Winnipeg, and a few months ago, the son of one of his elderly patients who died of COVID-19 was invited to be with her at the last minute.

The man became aggressive. He refused to wear a mask and deliberately coughed in Thompson’s face, pushing him aside.

Security accompanied the man outside, where Thompson said they managed to hash things out. The man apologized and was invited back with a mask on, but the exchange still left a mark.

“It’s important for people who are suffering, who are frustrated, to really pay attention to how they channel their anger,” he said.

That message has not quite resonated in parts of the south.

“It’s become a very, very hostile community to work in,” said the Winkler-based doctor.

He also works at Boundary Trails, where staff face more direct hostility than the clinic, he said.

The Boundary Trails Health Center is between Winkler and Morden, about 100 miles southwest of Winnipeg. (Ian Froese / CBC)

Boundary Trails serves people from a variety of communities, including Winkler and the rural municipality of Stanley, where vaccination rates are the lowest in the province at 41.8 and 24.7 percent, respectively, as of Friday.

These rates reflect consistent attitudes that physicians encounter at work there, the doctor said.

“Trying to help someone who thinks you are the enemy and accuses you of withholding the right care, without knowing what you are talking about … it has been frustrating,” he said.

“What I wish people would understand is that we do our job, just like we always have, and our job has always been to try to keep people out of the hospital, to try to prevent illness and injury in instead of trying to fix it once it has happened. “

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