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Edmonton doctors say new COVID-19 committee will provide ‘impartial, objective’ information

Click to play video 'Alberta’s former CMOH among doctors forming their own pandemic response committee' Alberta’s former CMOH among doctors forming their own pandemic response committee
WATCH: A group of Edmonton doctors is forming a pandemic response committee amid decrease in public trust in the Alberta government — and one of the chairs of the committee is Alberta's previous chief medical officer of health. Kim Smith reports – Nov 27, 2020

A group of Edmonton doctors has created a new pandemic response committee in response to the rise of COVID-19 cases.

When asked about the committee Friday, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said she was “always grateful for colleagues who are working hard to make sure the public has accurate information.”

“It’s my understanding, from speaking with colleagues, that some of the concerns this group is wanting to address are concerns about fellow physicians who have made inaccurate or misleading statements in the public,” she said.

Click to play video 'Hinshaw says she is ‘happy to work with any colleagues’ after Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association forms COVID-19 committee' Hinshaw says she is ‘happy to work with any colleagues’ after Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association forms COVID-19 committee
Hinshaw says she is ‘happy to work with any colleagues’ after Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association forms COVID-19 committee – Nov 27, 2020

“And so, I’m happy, of course, to work with any colleagues who are doing their best to make sure the public has accurate information about the severity of COVID-19 and how serious it is and why we must address it together.”

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The new Strategic COVID-19 Pandemic Committee has been designed by the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association (EZMSA), which represents about 1,700 doctors.

Read more: Edmonton doctors group raises concern about Alberta’s coronavirus preparedness

EZMSA president Dr. Ernst Schuster said the committee has been constructed to monitor public health, the health system and the government response in Alberta, research and recommend medical guidance, as well as provide public information and medical advice to Albertans.

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“People thought that was a really good idea to actually have a group together to mull things over and come to a consensus on whatever we want to say about the current situation, about recommendations that are out there,” Schuster said.

“It was also the concern that there was a little bit of a loss of faith in government and even the relationship between the medical office of health and government.”

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READ MORE: Alberta’s positivity rate sits at 7%; rapid tests coming to some assessment centres

The committee said medical leadership is required “with over 1,500 daily cases and exponential growth reported for the province and frequent circulation of dangerously incorrect information.”

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“There was room for some people to make some pretty dangerous statements, such as ‘masks don’t work,’ and ‘social distancing doesn’t work,'” Schuster said.

“We thought we should be organized and create a credible platform for the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association to comment on issues as they arise.”

READ MORE: Dr. Deena Hinshaw calls leaked public health meeting recordings a ‘personal betrayal’

The committee said it will consider all factors and evidence in providing Albertans with medical advice, “which is impartial, objective and not influenced by partisan politics or personal conflicts.”

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“We want to be fair and we just want to be consistent, but on the other hand, also provide a message when it’s necessary,” Schuster said.

Dr. James Talbot and Dr. Noel Gibney will co-chair the committee.

Talbot is the former chief medical officer of health for the Alberta government from 2012 to 2015, while Gibney is an intensive care physician and University of Alberta professor emeritus.

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