COVID-19 Update: May 7, 2020

Many of you may have received notices or heard from friends that some fertility clinics are slowly starting to re-open across the province and country. The timing of a clinic’s opening will vary depending on the rate of COVID-19 infections in the region, public health guidelines, and readiness of the clinic to implement strict changes to ensure patient and staff safety. Some feel that it is a little early still as the rate of COVID-19 infections have not steadily declined over a 14 day period in Ontario. While numbers are trending in the right direction, the Ministry of Health has advised us that it is important to let those patterns persist before jumping in to reopening too quickly. In short, the Ministry has strongly advised against opening too early.

While Mount Sinai Fertility (MSF) has remained open providing virtual consultations and reviews by OTN, as well as urgent egg and sperm banking for cancer patients, MSF is finalizing plans to resume fertility treatments to accommodate all patients. We want to do it right and in accordance with the Ministry of Health guidelines and recommendations. With our unique relationship to Sinai Health, Mount Sinai Fertility has access to expertise in infection prevention and control and women’s health and has developed a plan that will meet the highest standards for safety. While Mount Sinai Fertility has not set specific dates, we have started to contact the first group of patients, namely the IVF patients who had their treatment cancelled mid-cycle, and are assessing their readiness to start.

A measured and responsible approach to ramping up fertility treatments
As we will need to adjust to a new way of operating, our approach will be measured and controlled, gradually increasing volumes as appropriate. Here is the order in which we will proceed

  1. We will begin with patients whose IVF cycle was cancelled due to COVID-19 and with those who had a scheduled IVF cycle start in March and April. We are currently contacting these patients by phone and e-mail.
  2. We will then approach patients whose embryo transfer or frozen embryo transfer was cancelled in March due to COVID-19. We will start contacting these patients once we have contacted the initial group.
  3. Finally, we will introduce IUI and intercourse cycles starting with those who were cancelled in March

What can our patients do to prepare?
In order to manage our volumes, we are asking patients not to call with a day 1 to start a cycle, unless asked to do so by one of our nurses. If you have not seen your fertility specialist in the last three months and wish to proceed with a treatment cycle, please book an appointment with your doctor and they will notify the nursing team of your interest to start a treatment cycle. This appointment will be held virtually through OTN. This will allow your physician to review orders and ensure everything is ready for you to proceed. The nursing team will follow-up with a planned start date for your cycle. Please understand that it will take time for MSF to resume to its full capacity and to catch up with the demand from our patients; we want to do so in the safest way possible and without compromising on quality.

MSF Support Groups:
There was and continues to be an overwhelming response for the MSF Virtual Support Group. There are currently two groups meeting weekly. We are currently discussing the best strategy to ensure our patients get the support they need. This may mean the introduction of an 8 week program which patients can register for by contacting Jodi Goldstein. Alternatively, you can book an individual appointment with Jodi Goldstein by sending her an email.

Fertility Matters Canada also offers support groups to patients across the country. Visit their Facebook page for more information.

Storage Fees:
Patients who have embryos, sperm or eggs stored at Mount Sinai Fertility are required to pay annual storage fees. We understand that plans for use of your stored material have changed in response to COVID-19, and that your financial situation may have also been impacted. Here are answers to a few common scenarios:

Scenario 1: Your IVF treatment cycle was cancelled due to COVID-19 and your embryo(s) had to be frozen for future use.

  • You will be required to pay storage fees upfront.
  • If you use all embryo(s) in the next scheduled treatment cycle, you will receive a refund of these fees.
  • If there are additional embryo(s) after this cycle, no refund will apply, as you will be maintaining ongoing storage.
  • If you choose not to proceed with a treatment cycle, no refund will apply.

Scenario 2: You were scheduled or you called a Day 1 to proceed with a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) treatment cycle, but it was cancelled due to COVID-19. Your storage fees came due in a month when the clinic was not offering treatment.

  • You will be required to pay storage fees.
  • If you use all embryo(s) in the next scheduled treatment cycle, you will be refunded the pro-rated amount.
  • If there are additional embryo(s) after this cycle, no refund will apply.
  • If you choose not to proceed with a treatment cycle, no refund will apply.

Scenario 3: You were planning on starting a cycle but did not call a Day 1 prior to the clinic pausing non-urgent treatments.

  • Full storage fees due as per fee policy.

If your financial situation as been impacted due to COVID-19, please contact our Finance Team to discuss how MSF can help.

Conceivable Dreams Survey Results
Thank you to our patients who may have taken the time to complete the survey. Conceivable Dreams had more than 650 individuals participate in their survey and nearly every participant (98%) had the course of their treatment altered. More than three quarters of participants had their treatment cycle cancelled or delayed.

Almost all (91%) of participants believe that reopening fertility services should be an important priority when the Government begins to allow the reopening of healthcare services.
Participants shared common concerns. The main concerns were the emotional burden of infertility (81%), the passing of time and their increasing age (77%) and financial insecurity (35%).
Conceivable dreams wrote to the Government seeking their support in prioritizing the reopening of fertility clinics. On a call they reiterated the serious concerns patients have regarding their access to fertility treatments.

Conceivable Dreams is an organization advocating for current and future families by building awareness of fertility in Ontario. Click here to find out how you can get involved or donate.

Community Partners

Flowlabs has opened their Oshawa and Mississauga locations. Their downtown Toronto location will be opening on May 11. They will only be accepting drop off samples by appointment only. Visit their website to order a drop off kit.