June 22, 2020 Hello readers,
On Friday June 19th, it was 100 days, 2,400 hours and 144,000 minutes ago when the WHO declared a global pandemic. How our lives have changed.
Our clinic and staff are working hard to continually service our patients safely. Thanks to our patient patients – we are in this together and I am pleased that it is working well to date.
We have some additional good news – MFC will be relaunching the third-party program in stages. As you may be aware, Health Canada’s Safety of Sperm and Ova Regulations have recently come into effect. Health Canada aims to protect the health and safety of all involved when parents hope to conceive a baby using either donor sperm, eggs, embryos or a surrogate.
The new regulations require additional checks to be done with your donors/surrogates. In addition, MFC must audit all agencies and testing facilities that we use. While we do not expect any concerns to arise with these new requirements, it has impacted many facets of our program and, more importantly, it has delayed your current fertility cycles. We recognize that this can be frustrating when you have already waited through COVID-19.
MFC has established a multidisciplinary team to diligently ensure that all regulations/COVID-19 requirements are followed. We have designed a phased-in approach to unfolding the program. Phase 1 started on June 17th for patients who have embryos created using donor eggs or sperm prior to February 4th, 2020.
While required paperwork and testing protocols will take longer, our coordinators will help you through the new process each step of the way. Please email your nurse coordinators if you are interested in starting the next steps of your third-party cycle.
May 13, 2020
There is much to celebrate today – finally some sun outside! A holiday long weekend is coming soon! Ontario COVID-19 infection numbers are dropping! And Markham Fertility Centre is resuming limited services.
MFC’s “CRAWL, WALK, RUN STRATEGY” will be in place to illustrate our intention of opening in a responsible manner. We have been providing obstetrical and urgent gynecological care for the past 7 weeks during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Patient visits were limited; most patients had virtual appointments. Staff worked from home and the clinic was open at a CRAWL. This provided us insight into potential challenges and gave us time to develop risk mitigation strategies before the clinic opens at the relative pace of a WALK.
We will start with a limited numbers of patients for specific procedures. Priority will be given to those patients who had their treatments cancelled in March and April.
Nurse Coordinators will contact patients over the coming week to discuss fertility plans. Patients will be asked to prepare for their upcoming treatments by having their medical testing updated (if needed), completing their patient education programs and submitted signed consent forms.
The clinic will only move to a ‘RUN’ when it is safe to do so. Much will depend upon how smoothly new strategies work. We ask our patients to help us. Please adhere closely to these requests:
– we will give you an appointment time for every visit. This appointment time is carefully selected to allow us to manage patients and social distancing requirements. We cannot provide services to those who arrive late or early.
– plan to arrive a little early – you must enter through 377 Church Street and complete hospital screening. (See instructions in FAQ to the right). After you have completed the 377 Church St screening, please proceed to 379 Church Street.
– please wait in the main lobby on the 1st or 2nd floor (with social distancing) until it is time for your appointment. Only then, please proceed to MFC’s 5th floor facility. This will prevent our screening area from becoming too busy and will allow us to manage cycle monitoring patients.
– remember – no children are allowed. A support people will only be allowed if you are having an egg retrieval or an embryo transfer.
For ongoing information, please follow our Instagram @markhamfertility and @dr.meivys.garcia
We look forward to seeing you in the clinic soon!
April 15, 2020
I hope that everyone is continuing to stay safe amidst this Covid19 crisis. The Canadian government has asked all of us to continue to stay home as much as possible for another 2 weeks until May 3rd. By that time, we hope that the curve has flattened and fewer people will test positive for the virus. This crisis has confirmed to me how powerful collaboration can be. When all Canadians work together for the common good, we will succeed and win this battle.
For the past month, I have been doing many telephone consultations with my patients. The overwhelming question is: “When is Markham Fertility Centre going to re-open for IUI and IVF services?” This forced delay is stressful for all of you and especially when postponements in treatment can affect your future chance of success. Let me assure you that we hear your question loud and clear and we will make every effort to open as quickly and as safely as possible.
Here is some news to share:
- We have started an Instagram account @markhamfertility so we can communicate with our MFC patients easily. Please follow us for updates.
- We have developed a multidisciplinary “Ramp Up Strategy Team”. We call it the ‘RUST’ team. Plans are being formulated so that we will be ready to go when the time arrives.
- MFC is supporting an online course presented by Fresh Insight Therapy Services called “Food, Feelings and Fertility”. Our MFC patients can enter the code “STAYSTRONG” at checkout to receive 40% off. Check this out at: https://www.fresh-insight.ca/online-course-for-infertility
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) held a virtual conference last night with medical representation from many countries around the world. It was clear that opinions were varied and emotions ran high. While most could agree that a pause in fertility services was warranted, there was clear disagreement about when services should start. Some New York clinics that had remained open drew harsh criticism from the group. Many doctors feel, as I do, that re-opening must be a well-planned strategy so we are careful to ‘do no harm’.
It is clear that stringent screening protocols and social distancing will be in place for months ahead. MFC’s team remains committed to employing strict safety measures. Likewise, I am certain that our patients will do all they can to protect themselves and stay healthy during their future fertility treatment. Together, our joint efforts will help keep us all safe.
I will continue to carefully monitor the ASRM and CFAS recommendations. My decision will also rely on input from my fellow doctors and the MFC team. I am hopeful that we can safely start to phase-in some testing and treatments over the next 2 – 6 weeks.
In the meantime, keep checking this website and MFC’s Instagram for up-to-date information.
Stay safe – Stay tuned.
Dr. Michael Virro
March 30, 2020
I hope you are surviving the self-isolation imposed on all of us by Covid-19. Thankfully, the rainy weekend weather helped keep people indoors and my wife and I have been able to self-isolate together.
Presently, our office seems so quiet compared to what it used to be. All fertility treatments have ended as per the CFAS recommendations. Many of our staff are working from home, some are taking vacation time and some will be temporarily laid off soon. It has been an incredibly difficult time for all of us and I have never seen anything like this in my 37 years of practice. My hope and goal is that our staff and patients will all be back, working together again, sooner rather than later.
During the week, our doctors are still seeing our Obstetrical patients and doing virtual consultations. Actually, now is the time to get your fertility plans in order so we are ready to go at any given date in the future. Contact your doctor’s office for an appointment.
This coming week is an important one for Canadians. According to the Globe and Mail, over 1 million travellers have recently returned from distant places. Incubation periods for these travellers will be expiring over the coming week. It is a vital time to stay isolated so that those who are sick are not spreading the virus to other people.
I have updated some of the FAQ’s on this site.
Stay safe, Stay tuned,
Dr. Michael Virro
March 23, 2020 RE: MFC IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS (with some changes)
My previous update (below) talked about why MFC is suspending fertility testing/monitoring, egg retrievals and medical services following a recommendation from the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS). These are the same recommendations from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Yesterday, Ontario’s Premier, Doug Ford, has instituted shutdowns of ‘unessential’ services. While I recognize that ‘essential vs unessential’ has different meanings to different people, I would like to clearly share what services will and will not be offered during this unprecedented time.
- Markham Fertility Centre will remain open for essential medical services.
- A physician will be in the clinic Monday – Friday from 8:30 am – 3:55 pm.
- Dr. Virro, Dr. Garcia, and Dr. Wais are working full-time schedules either seeing patients in the clinic or performing phone consults from home.
- Each doctor’s staff will answer the phones and appointments are still being scheduled.
- Whenever possible, these appointments will be done by phone or video-conference using a recommended medical portal with increased security features.
This is a time to do initial consults with new patients and to have follow up calls with existing patients who wish to revisit their fertility plan and have medical concerns addressed. It is a busy time; your appointment may not be immediate, but all doctors will schedule appointments on a full time work week.
Essential services include:
- Prenatal patients
- Ultrasound services for prenatal patients
- Any complication of pregnancy
- Any gynecologic urgent matter
Non-essential services (as determined by the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society) will be put on hold. These include:
- IVF cycles
- Fresh and frozen embryo transfers
- IUI cycles
- Semen analysis
- Cycle monitoring
- ERA biopsies
Immune patients that are presently in the middle of their treatment will be considered as an essential service.
If you are required to come to the clinic (essential services), please note that you will still be medically screened at the building entrance and once you enter the MFC clinic. The entrance to 379 Church Street has been closed; refer to FAQ’s for further information.
Currently, it isn’t possible to commit to previously scheduled start/retrieval dates. However, we can commit to developing comprehensive plans so we can ramp up operations and take to the ground running when we are given the green light. Those patients who were already booked for March fertility treatments will be given priority and other spots will be assigned.
We understand your disappointment and frustration by having your fertility procedures delayed or cancelled. Please be assured that the physicians and staff at MFC are doing everything we can in these difficult times.
Please keep checking this website for updates and potential opening times.
I appreciate your patience. Please stay healthy and follow the guidelines set out by the Ministry of Health and our Prime Minister.
Dr. Michael Virro
Medical Director, Markham Fertility Centre
March 20, 2020 Here’s a personal message from Dr. Virro (Medical Director, Markham Fertility Centre)
Welcome to Markham Fertility Centre’s communication board. I will be posting updates regularly to help our patients feel connected to what is happening at Markham Fertility Centre (MFC).
A lot has changed in the past week. As you can see from previous posts, our doctors and staff have worked as an incredible team to develop safety measures to protect the health and safety of our patients and staff. Our goal was to employ all necessary precautions so we could stay open as long as possible for our patients. However, the situation changed when a guidance document was released by the Canadian Fertility & Andrology Society that has far-reaching implications for all Canadian fertility patients.
I did a careful review of the recommendations, had in depth discussions with my fellow MFC physicians and several conversations with Medical Directors from other Canadian fertility clinics. The difficult decision was made; MFC will respect and follow the CFAS guidelines.
Therefore, effective immediately, MFC
- Will not perform any non-essential procedures
- Will not start new in-vitro fertility cycles (IVF), insemination cycles (IUI) or frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycles
- Will not perform immune therapies and diagnostic testing
Once the clinic is reopened, patients who are currently booked for procedures will be prioritized and operations will ramp up quickly so we can accommodate as many patients as possible.
Dr. Virro, Dr. Garcia and Dr. Wais and their staff will:
- provide pre/post natal care and ultrasounds with onsite visits and/or phone consultation as prescribed by your physician. Note: Patients who visit our offices will be asked to follow rigorous screening procedures as outlined in the March 18 post below
- provide phone consultations to review our patients’ current fertility plans and how Covid-19 affects them personally. MFC employs recommended virtual platforms with increased security to protect your privacy.
- provide medications for pregnancy support as required
- accept new patients and perform phone consultations
If you are a patient of Dr. Pyselman, Dr. Roth, Dr. Roumain or Dr. Dzineku, you will receive instructions from their clinics directly.
What you can do during this time:
- Monitor this message board for MFC-related information. The CFAS guidelines are subject to change every 2 weeks. Our current safety plan means we can hit the road running when the green light is on.
- Contact your MFC physician’s office directly if you would like to book a virtual appointment. All doctors are fully committed to doing phone consultations and we have increased staffing to answer these questions and book appointments.
- If you need additional emotional support, contact our counselling service at www.fresh-insight.ca to book a virtual appointment.
- If you would like to learn more about nutrition and what men and women can do to support their fertility while you wait, obtain nutritional counselling at www.fresh-insight.ca
- Dr. Garcia’s social media provides support, inspiration and up-to-date information – blog at http://www.drmeivysgarcia.com and http://www.instragram.com/dr.meivys.garcia
- Stay healthy – watch the news for health updates and advisories, employ proper hand-washing techniques and practice rigorous social distancing.
We understand that this news will be upsetting and frustrating and realize that you have been preparing and planning for this next step in your fertility journey. Know you are not alone in this journey – MFC is committed to helping you through this difficult time and continuing your treatment as soon as possible.
Stay safe – we are all doing our part to protect and help each other.
Signing off for now,
Dr. Michael Virro
Medical Director, Markham Fertility Centre
March 18, 2020 Markham Fertility Centre (MFC) remains open to our patients and is accepting new referrals. Markham Fertility Centre remains commited to its patients and staff. We have been a government-inspected and accredited health facility for over 15 years. As such, our clinic has a culture of adhering to strict guidelines and quality standards that supports the safety of patients and staff. This includes comprehensive and rigorous safety standards, standard operating procedures and staff training and competency programs. If you are already an MFC patient who has started or is about to start your fertility treatments, your Coordinator and Doctor will provide you with additional information about how Covid-19 may affect your personal fertility plan. Most fertility plans will remain unchanged at this time. In response to governmental guidelines and recommendations, MFC has instituted additional precautions including: The main entrance to our building at 379 Church Street has been closed. You will need to enter the main entrance of 377 Church Street. This is the brown building with green panels in front of our building. This new entrance is directly across from the main parking lot. Screeners will be present at this entrance on weekdays from 7am -5pm. Once you have been screened, please follow the signs to the 379 Church Street elevators and proceed to the 5th floor. A ‘Covid-19 Management Team’ has been established to ensure that MFC develops comprehensive and effective safety practices in accordance with governmental recommendations. If you have an appointment booked, you will be prescreened prior to your appointment date. All people entering MFC’s premises must proceed through MFC’s screening station on the 5th floor. Those who meet the safety standards will be granted access to the facility. Physicians will provide virtual consultations (by phone or electronic means) if an office visit is not required, if your health and risk history precludes an office visit, or if you are not comfortable with coming to MFC’s offices. Only you and your partner will be admitted (as per screening protocols). You must have an appointment to be seen. MFC will be ‘cashless’ during this time; you will be asked to pay via authorized online portals. Patients without appointments, children, unauthorized visitors and/or delivery personnel will not be admitted. Rigorous disinfection and cleaning procedures are being performed by trained staff members. Our practices exceed the established guidelines in both scope and frequency. You will be assigned to a specific waiting area where social distancing measures have been employed hhile you wait for your appointment (including cycle monitoring). If you have general questions about Covid-19, these resources are helpful: www.toronto.ca/coronavirus www.ontario.ca/coronavirus Telehealth Ontario: To speak to a nurse, 24-7 call 1-866-797-0000 Multilingual Advice from Toronto Public Health Hotline: 416-338-7600 weekdays 8:30 am – 8:00 pm, weekends 10 am – 6 pm Afterhours Public Health emergency help line (multilingual): 416-392-2489 or 311 Follow Dr. Meivys Garcia, MD on her Instagram @ https://www.instagram.com/dr.meivys.garcia/