Melissa Holm, Canadian PA on the Frontlines of COVID-19

Melissa Holm Physician Assistant

Working through COVID-19 in a Family health Setting

Working through this pandemic we have had to change the way we practice family medicine safely and effectively. There is no template to follow so we have had to be creative to provide optimal care.  I have been working family medicine for 7 years and practice as an extension of a Physician in our team.

We have split the office staff into teams so there are a limited number of us in the office at one time. We have one team in office and the other teams working remotely from home.

I have remote access to our EMR which allows me to do everything that I would normally do in the office from home like faxing, secure email, phone calls and video conference calls (virtual visits/OTN).  There is always one Physician or PA in the office to see patients (Well baby visits, prenatal exams, physical exams that cannot be assessed over the phone or OTN etc).

I have full PPE if I need to do any procedures or exams that require it. I am using e-consult more than I ever have in the past so patients can still have access to specialists in a timely manner.

I have reached out to our senior patients (socially isolated, retirement home and/or frail with limited supports). We are making sure that they are still receiving optimal medical and personal care (meals, home care and easing anxiety). We are offering a referral to the Mac SSIPP (Mac Student-Senior Isolation Prevention Partnership) and taking the opportunity to start the conversation around advanced care planning.

Our main goal is to be available to all our patients. We want to do our best to keep people out of the Emergency Room.

This is an opportunity for us to change for the better.  As a Physician Assistant I have played an integral part in the changes we have made in the office and have been part of our weekly meetings to share ideas and opinions.  We are all being forced to change the way that we practice medicine and most likely make long term changes moving forward. We are taking this opportunity to make positive changes for the future of patient care in family medicine.

About Melissa Holm, CCPA

Melissa is a Canadian Certified Physician Assistant, and graduate of McMaster University Class of 2013. She has worked in Family medicine for the Hamilton Family Health Team through two clinics (2013). Recently she has joined St. Joseph’s Hospital Hamilton working in Emergency Medicine and UCC (2016).