SickKids maximizes frontline PA team in virtual Emergency Department workflow

In a new First View Commentary in the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine authors Dr. Daniel Rosenfield, Jordan Levinter, CCPA, et al. outline how Toronto’s SickKids hospital established novel roles for self-isolated physicians and its frontline PA team during COVID-19.

The authors describe how self-isolating physicians work as a “virtual attending” and use the PA team to help with gathering history, performing physical examinations, providing discharge instructions, and more. The article also examines issues around patient selection, communication, and medicolegal risks.

“By implementing creative staffing configurations, leveraging off-site access to EMRs and modern communication tools, these individuals [isolated physicians] can still contribute meaningfully to the operations of the department.”

How the military prepared me to treat COVID-19

William (Bill) Wilson MPAS, CCPA, CD is a Physician Assistant in Internal Medicine. He wrote a Guest Column for the Windsor Star about his experience as a former Canadian Armed Forces medic and PA, and his current work as a PA at the Windsor Regional Hospital. Read his column: How the military prepared me to treat COVID-19.

Physician assistant and Canadian soldier Bill Wilson, taken in Kandahar, Afghanistan, circa April/May 2002. Photo courtesy of Bill Wilson and published in the Windsor Star.

Alberta Health Minister Responds to Calls for PA Regulation

On Friday, May 8 we were thrilled to see Minister of Health Tyler Shandro and UCP MLA Shane Getson discuss physician assistants in the Alberta legislature.

This follows our April 23 letter and briefing note to the Minister recommending an earlier timeline for regulation and identifying how PAs could be better leveraged during the pandemic. We also reminded the government that PA regulation aligns with the McKinnon Report recommendations to maximize the scope of practice of other health care professionals.

New study identifies factors that support and restrict Ontario’s use of PAs

In a new open-access study published in BMC Health Services Research author Dr. Kristen Burrows et al. explore the integration of PAs across multiple health settings and aim to help policy makers understand the role of PAs in complex adaptive systems.

Ontario introduced PAs in 2006 to address wait times, improve access to and continuity of care, and add a flexible resource to the workforce. But misaligned policies around reimbursement and incentives are resulting in diverging interests among physicians and PAs.

“PAs are playing a vital role in the delivery and support of healthcare within a multitude of settings as adaptable and collaborative team members focused on person-centered care. As the PA profession continues to expand into new jurisdictions, findings from this study help fill existing knowledge and practice gaps regarding the role of PAs. Documenting the central role of PAs will continue to inform the design and dissemination of research in order to optimize health care system efficiencies though PA integration.”

Ontario MPP Laura Mae Lindo calls on province to include PAs in pandemic support

In a video message posted today, MPP Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre) voiced her support for the recognition of physician assistants (PAs) as frontline health care workers during COVID-19.

CAPA member Sarah Flanagan, a certified physician assistant practicing at Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre in Kitchener, wrote to MPP Lindo about the continued exclusion of PAs from the list of health care workers who are eligible for additional “pandemic pay” support.

In her message, Sarah said, “It is beyond disheartening that my profession remains excluded from the provincial recognition of our role in providing frontline care during COVID-19. PAs are absolutely on the frontlines of this pandemic.”

Sanctuary is the largest dedicated refugee health centre in Canada and Sarah leads its Prenatal Care Program. While the rest of the clinic has shifted to mostly virtual care, Sarah’s prenatal patients, newborns, and small babies still largely need in-person assessments so she is in the clinic making sure their needs are met. Although her patients are asymptomatic, she wears PPE and goes through a strict decontamination protocol between patients to ensure her safety and the safety of her patients.

As the national voice of PAs in Ontario and across Canada, CAPA continues to strongly advocate for the recognition of PA contributions. To learn more, read our statement and meet some of our frontline heroes fighting COVID-19.

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