Chan Nguyen, Canadian Internal Medicine PA on the Frontlines of COVID-19

As a PA at the North Bay Regional Health Centre in the Internal Medicine service, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on my practice and my community. Although we are a smaller community, we serve a large geographical area with a varied population, providing ICU and specialized care outside of a large teaching centre.

My role as a PA continues to be integral to providing timely, quality care for our patients. We are usually a consulting service, however, have now become an admitting service for confirmed and potential COVID-19 patients, not requiring ICU, in addition to continuing to offer consultations across the hospital. As such, work continues to be very busy while the hospital itself has experienced slow downs due to decreased admissions and elective surgeries. To the point where some urgent outpatient appointments are being cancelled by patients out of fear that we are overwhelmed.

Although we are relatively close to larger urban centres, we have managed to contain the community spread of the pandemic. Our community is doing its best to adhere to the social distancing measures. This has provided the hospital and local authorities lots of time to put policies and procedures in place to deal with a potential surge, which will hopefully never come.

Information and policies about this virus are ever changing, certainly causing concern and frustration for patients, staff and administrators. PAs are not exempt. From infection control rules, potential PPE shortages, swabbing criteria changes and even rules about eating and drinking at work, every day presents new challenges. We, PAs, are supporting each other and endeavouring to support our coworkers to roll with the punches as they come.

On a personal note, like many others, the social distancing and self-isolation has been hard as my family is out of town, as are some close friends. I’m thankful for unlimited internet for video chats with them, and for my job despite the risks and the frustrations. Working full-time has certainly lessened the blow of social distancing.

Ultimately, I’m proud to be a PA and to see so many of us out there working the front lines and showcasing our value and our role in the healthcare system. That is certainly a silver lining to this dark, COVID, cloud.

About Chan Nguyen, CCPA

Chan is a Canadian Certified Physician Assistant practicing in General Internal Medicine.