To Mask or Not to Mask?

To Mask or Not to Mask?

Back on May 20th, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam made the announcement that she was recommending Canadians wear a face mask/covering where physical distancing wasn’t possible.  Wearing face masks is not something Westerners are used to.  It’s almost a stigma to have one on, however, in East Asia and China, there is no shame in wearing a face mask.  In fact, it has been going on there since the pneumonic plague in 1910 and is seen as a sign of civic responsibility to do so.  If someone is seen not wearing a face mask during a public health emergency, it is greatly frowned upon and people are actually afraid of that person because they would be considered to have low civic responsibility and disrespect.  

Now that things are slowly opening up, we will be exposed to more human contact than we’ve had in the past 2 months.  Social distancing is a new term for us and we are still trying to understand what is acceptable and what is not.  Based on what Dr. Tam has suggested, if you are not able to distance yourself in a situation where you will have 2 meters space, then the recommendation is to wear a non-surgical face mask.  An example would be if you routinely take the train to work.  You cannot guarantee you will be able to keep a 2 meter distance with someone else.  In a situation like this, it makes sense to wear a covering.  If you take your own car to work, you would not need to wear your mask as you were driving.

COVID-19 is a new virus.  We are learning more and more about each day.  We already know you can be asymptomatic.  Even though you feel well, you may be a carrier without even realizing it.  By wearing a face mask in situations where there will be close contact with others, the chances of spreading it are decreased significantly on both ends.  Not only are you protecting yourself, you are also protecting the more vulnerable such as a senior or immunosuppressed individual.  While it is not mandatory, it does show that you are willing to make a difference in combating this virus and are respectful of others around you.  Plus, it is a temporary inconvenience and there are some pretty cool looking face masks being made out there!

Health Vantis


What Creates Canadian Wait Lists?

What Creates Canadian Wait Lists?  We are at the conclusion of our blogs this month for the 2017 wait times.  But what actually creates these wait lists and wait times?

Reasons That Might Suggest Why

There is a plethora of reasons why they occur across the country but here are a few possibilities that might support reasons as to why.

  1.   All physicians will see patients in the manner they see fit.  It can be based on their patient case loads, comparison to their other patients or simply triaged.  As much as we don’t want to believe it, some physicians will help fellow colleagues or friends/family out ahead of their actual patients.
  2. Lack of resources in a given province.  When this happens, the patient may be referred to another province for treatment.  If this happens, you become part of their wait list
  3. Rationing.  By this, we mean that there may be a doctor available to do another surgery and OR time available, however, each province sets the amount of patients seen or surgeries done in a given day.  If they have already met that quota, then they cannot treat any further patients until the next day.  This can create a back log that just keeps compounding on each other.
  4. Lack of available General Practitioner (GP) and Specialists. When you don’t have access to a GP or Specialist, people tend to utilize the ER for minor things as opposed to true emergencies.  This then creates long waits in the ER and takes valuable time away from those individuals who truly have an emergency.
  5. Lack of money.  Each province has their own budget of how much they spend on heath care resources.  Many of them have traditionally been fiscally conservative in how the money is spent.
  6. The aging Baby Boomer population.  As the Baby Boomers age, the need for more services are required that come with that aging process.  ‘The number of beds available for them may not be enough or may be blocked for budget reasons.  Community care is also limited.’(1)


Some experts have argued that changes need to be made to model other single payor systems in going to a 2-Tiered system which allows for privatization, using a cost sharing model for certain treatments or having to pay a co-pay for utilizing your GP or visiting the ER.  The Fraser Institute reported wait times the highest they’ve been in the 26 years they have been tracking it. Bacchus Barua(2) from the Frasier Institute has said

Although there are probably many other theories on where the medical wait lists began and most likely a combination of things there is no denying they exit.

We are experts at finding alternate, affordable, options if you are on a wait list.   Contact Health Vantis to see how we can help you find them!  877-344-3544 or


  1. CBC News/Health:
  2. Bacchus Barua:

Health Vantis


2017 Canadian Wait Lists: Broken Down By Province

2017 Canadian Wait Lists: Broken Down By Province…

In the 2 previous blogs this month, we gave a general overview of wait times for 2017 as well as a breakdown per specialty.  This week we’d like to provide the breakdown for each province.  The graph below indicates the wait time for each province broken down into: general practitioner (GP) to specialist, specialist to treatment and the total amount of time combined with these 2 factors.

Some of the changes in the first segment for a referral from a general practitioner (GP) to a specialist has risen from 9.4 weeks in 2016 to 10.2 weeks in 2017.  This is 177% higher than what it was in 1993.   The provinces where this increase has occurred are Manitoba, Ontario and Newfoundland & Labrador.

In the second segment of seeing a specialist and actual treatment has also increased from 10.6 weeks in 2016 to 10.9 weeks in 2017.  This is 95% higher than it was in 1993.

The overall wait time has increased in all provinces with the exclusion of British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador where the wait time decreased slightly.  Despite the decreases for these provinces, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are still leading the provinces with the longest wait times.

What causes these wait times?  Come back next week for more information on likely reasons the wait lists have existed and continue to rise.

For more information about Health Vantis and how we can help if you are on a wait list, contact us at 877-344-3544 or

Health Vantis


2017 Canadian Wait Lists: Broken Down By Specialty

2017 Canadian Wait Lists: Broken Down By Specialty:

Last week we discussed the new numbers for the 2017 Canadian wait lists.  This week we are going to break this down by speciality, how long it takes to see a specialist and point of treatment.  They are as follows:








The largest INCREASES and DECREASES from 2016 to 2017 are as follows:


Keep in mind, these are averages across Canada. Many provinces have much lower wait times, however, there are some that have even higher wait times.  Come back next week as we will break each down by province.

For more information or if you are someone on this list being affected by these wait times, please give Health Vantis a call to see how we can help assist!  or Toll-Free 877-344-3544

Health Vantis


2017 Canadian Wait Lists and Wait Times

2017 Canadian Wait Lists and Wait Times

Waiting for medical treatment in Canada has been an issue in the health care system for many years.  The Fraser Institute has been studying and reporting the statistics for these wait times for over 2 decades.  This month we will be breaking these findings down in our weekly Wednesday blog.  The 2017 findings are out and are as follows presented by weeks:














  • The number of Canadians on a wait list went from 973,505 in 2016 to 1,040,791 for 2017.
  • Average Total wait from referral to specialist to point of treatment is now 21.2 weeks 2017 which is 128% higher than in 1993.

What does this translate to outside of the obvious?  With prolonged wait times for your health, it can also affect many other aspects in your life.  Lengthy waits have consequences such as increased pain that may be treated with narcotics.  These have the potential to develop addiction which is a whole other set of issues.  It may also cause mental anguish, lost wages from the inability to work, or poorer medical outcomes potentially transforming reversible illness or injuries in to chronic, irreversible conditions that may result in permanent disabilities.

While Health Vantis supports the health care system, we also support making your health a priority.  If the system has put you on a wait list, please contact us to see what we can do to help.  Something as simple as having a private diagnostic test can make things move much faster for you.  Call us toll-free at 877-344-3544 for a complimentary 1-hour consultation to discuss how.  You can also reach us at or by visiting our website

Check back each Wednesday this month for a break down to the 2017 findings.  These are the next topics to look forward to:

Week 2:  Wait List Broken Down By Specialty

Week 3:  Wait List Broken Down By Province

Week 4:  Why Do Wait Lists Exist?

Health Vantis


Information from US Consulate regarding Travel due to Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma UPDATE and Hurricane Jose



The following information is intended for U.S. citizens impacted by Hurricanes Irma and or Jose who are located OUTSIDE of the United States, including outside of Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

For information on how to locate or contact a loved one who is currently INSIDE the United States, including in Florida, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands – please see the information at the end of this message.


The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, and the Eastern Caribbean due to continuing hazardous conditions in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. We continue to monitor the track of Hurricane Jose.

The safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas is a top priority of the Department of State.  The hurricanes brought significant rainfall and wind resulting in life-threatening flooding, mudslides, and storm surges.  Disruptions to travel and services have been reported throughout the path of the hurricane.  U.S. citizens should follow the emergency instructions provided by local authorities.

We urge U.S. citizens in the impacted area who are safe to contact their loved ones directly and/or update their social media status.


We recommend U.S. citizens who were unable to depart in advance of the hurricane’s arrival to shelter in place in a secure location.


If you are in the affected area and need immediate emergency services, please contact local authorities. 


Local numbers for police and emergency services:

  • Cuba: 106
  • Haiti: +509-3838-11 or +509-3733-3640
  • The Dominican Republic: 911
  • The Bahamas: 919 or 911
  • St. Maarten (Dutch side): 911
  • St. Martin and St. Barthélemy: The French Ministry of Interior has set up a public line emergency line: Tel: 01 82 71 03 37.
  • St. Eustatius:  911 (police) and 910 or 912 (medical)
  • Saba:  911 (police) and 912 (medical)


For U.S. Citizens in Dutch St. Maarten:  The Department of State is working with the Department of Defense to continue evacuation flights on September 11. U.S. citizens desiring to leave should proceed to the airport to arrive as early as is safe to do so, but no later than noon on Monday carrying their U.S. passport or other proof of U.S. citizenship and identity. Passengers may be allowed carry on one small bag.  Medications and any other essential items should be carried on your person.

Communication infrastructure has been heavily damaged.  There is no U.S. consular presence on the island.  U.S. citizens should follow the instructions provided by local authorities and call 911 locally if they require immediate assistance.  Shelters are available at the following locations:

  • New Testament Baptist Church in Philipsburg;
  • Sister Marie-Laurence Primary School in Middle Region;
  • Belvedere Community Center in Belvedere;
  • Dutch Quarter Community Center in Dutch Quarter;
  • Rupert I Maynard Youth Community Center St. Peters;
  • NIPA National Institute for Professional Advancement Cay Hill;
  • Christian Fellowship Church Across from Pineapple Pete’s Cole Bay.


For U.S. Citizens in French St. Martin:  There is no U.S. consular presence on the island.  Communication with St. Martin is slowly being reestablished, and we continue to reach out to French authorities to determine what additional relief and rescue efforts are underway and to identify options for U.S. citizens.  Local authorities continue to recommend all affected by the storm to shelter in place.  The French Ministry of Interior has set up a public line emergency line (Tel: 01 82 71 03 37) and provided a list of shelters in St. Martin and in St. Barthelemy.  As soon as we have more information regarding St. Martin and assistance to U.S. citizens there, we will update this website to keep U.S. citizens affected by the storm informed.


For U.S. Citizens in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, and St. Barthelemy:  Communication with these islands is slowly being reestablished, and we continue to reach out to the British and French authorities to determine what additional relief and rescue efforts are underway.  Local authorities continue to recommend all affected by the storm to shelter in place.  If you need food or water, you should seek local assistance where possible.


You can inform the Department of State about U.S. citizens affected by the hurricane who require emergency assistance through the following ways:

Visit Task Force Alert (tfa.state.govand select “2017 Hurricane Irma.”

o   If you are entering information about a U.S. citizen in Dutch St. Maarten, Anguilla, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, or St. Eustatius use “Netherlands” as the Last Known Country.

o   If you are entering information about a U.S. citizen in the British Virgin Islands, French St. Martin, Montserrat, St. Barthélemy, or St. Kitts and Nevis, use “Barbados” as the Last Known Country.

o   If you are entering information about a U.S. citizen in Turks and Caicos, use “The Bahamas” as the Last Known Country.

o   If you have difficulty using Task Force Alert, please email and provide as much information as possible about your loved one.


Email and provide as much information as possible (at a minimum, please provide their full name, gender, and last known location within country, if known).


Call us at 1-888-407-4747 (from the U.S. & Canada), +1-202-501-4444 (from Overseas).  If you are concerned about non-U.S. citizens in Saba, St Eustatius, and St Maarten, please see the Netherlands Red Cross Safe and Well website.


We advise U.S. citizens to read and follow Department of State Travel Warnings:

Current and anticipated operational status of associated U.S. embassies:

  • Cuba: Consular operations at U.S. Embassy Havana remain open for limited services at this time.
  • Haiti: Consular operations at U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince remain open for limited services at this time.
  • Dominican Republic: Consular operations at U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo remain open for limited services at this time.
  • The Bahamas: Consular operations at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau will remain open for emergency services.  U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy or Department of State in Washington for emergency services.

Please see the latest Emergency Message on the applicable U.S. Embassy websites for additional information about this event:


U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad are encouraged to enroll their travel plans on our website,, using the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), and to read the Country Specific Information also found on the site.







If you are a citizen or a national of another country (NOT the United States), please contact your country’s nearest Embassy or Consulate in the United States for information on assistance with locating a non-US citizen loved one.



Additionally, the following links provide information on how to locate a loved one – regardless of nationality – impacted by Hurricane Irma who is currently INSIDE the United States, including Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.


Please contact State and Territorial Emergency Management or Police at the following links:


Florida Emergency Management Organization

Government of Puerto Rico

Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands


For U.S. Red Cross Emergency Response and Shelter Information in the United States, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, please visit the following sites:


General Information:

South Florida:

Central Florida

North Florida


South Carolina

Puerto Rico

U.S. Virgin Islands

Red Cross Safe and Well


Additional information can be found at the U.S Federal Emergency Management Agency web site:

Federal Emergency Management Agency

New Breast Cancer therapy approved by US FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration just approved Nerlynx (neratinib) for the extended adjuvant treatment of early-stage, HER2-positive breast cancer. For patients with this type of cancer, Nerlynx is the first extended adjuvant therapy, a form of therapy that is taken after an initial treatment to further lower the risk of the cancer coming back. Nerlynx is for adult patients who have been previously treated with a regimen that includes the drug trastuzumab.

HER2-positive breast cancers are aggressive tumors and can spread to other parts of the body, making adjuvant therapy an important part of the treatment plan. Now these patients have an option to prevent this from happening.

Below are stats taken from the Canadian Cancer Society:

It is estimated that in 2017:

  • 26,300 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. This represents 25% of all new cancer cases in women in 2017.
  • 5,000 women will die from breast cancer. This represents 13% of all cancer deaths in women in 2017.
  • On average, 72 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every day.
  • On average, 14 Canadian women will die from breast cancer every day.
  • 230 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 60 will die from breast cancer.

Nerlynx is a kinase inhibitor that works by blocking several enzymes that promote cell growth.  After two years of doing the study for Nerlynx, 94.2 percent of patients treated  had not experienced cancer recurrence or death.

New Hope For Cancer?

Cancer is a dreaded word, especially when there are no viable options. The FDA recently approved a new drug in the US that may have some hope for individuals with numerous cancer indications including lung, head and neck cancer, melanoma and Hodgkin lymphoma. Contact us for more information or clinical trial information.

Dupuytren Contracture and FDA Non-Surgical Treatment Available with Our Doctors

Dupuytren contracture is an abnormal thickening and tightening of the normally elastic tissue beneath the skin of the palm and fingers. This causes the cords to tighten or contract making the finger(s) curl forward.  In severe cases, it can leave people with deformed hands or crippling.

Dupuytren’s disease typically starts at the age of 50 to 60, though even children have been reported to suffer from it.  It is more prevalent in men than women. Dupuytren’s disease seems to be fairly wide-spread in both Europe as in the USA and Canada. A recent survey in Belgium found that 1/3 of the population over 50 shows signs, including sub-clinical symptoms.

Outside of steroid injections and stretching, surgery used to be the only option for people with this disorder, which is very painful and a long recovery time.  There is a relatively new, FDA approved, non-surgical procedure available to those who have this, however, there are limited doctors in Canada trained to do it.  We work with US doctors that are able to administer this treatment.  If you or someone you know has been referred to have a surgery for this kind of hand ailment, please contact us as we may be able to offer a non-surgical procedure.


*Updated 3/4/19