Beth Felicelli, PA(ASCP)CM
AAPA member since 1996
"Here we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic: Isolated, on stay-at-home orders, but also with essential careers. As pathologists’ assistants, our workload has changed dramatically. I work in a small community hospital in Holland, Michigan, which is also the county morgue. Our non-emergent surgeries are canceled, so we don’t have much work for the foreseeable future. Because of this, our boss has allowed the two PAs to work amongst ourselves to get the work done. We are now typically working four hour days. The vast majority of our work has become cancer resections and placentas. Coincidentally, we have had very few autopsies since this has come about. We have discussed the possibility of COVID autopsies, but since these are natural deaths, we will not be performing them. We will continue with our standard PPE practices, making sure to save our N95 masks for autopsies.
We do have a plan in place in case our hospital sees an abundance of deaths. Our morgue holds six bodies. We have discussed with our local funeral homes the possibility of extra refrigerated storage if needed. Our body transport company has a large cooler available for additional storage and refrigerated trucks are on standby as well.
My biggest change at work is having to constantly wear masks. Although, I have started taking them off while grossing, since this has made me realize there is indeed a way for my voice recognition to screw up even more! We have mandatory check points at the only entrances we are still allowed to use. My temperature is taken every time I enter or exit. With my newly found spare time, I am now catching up on my policies and procedures and preparing for our lab’s CAP self-inspection.
Our hospital is short on masks, but our community has stepped up and donated several homemade, cloth masks. My coworker and I have dissected out vacuum filters to insert into our masks. I will say, it’s wonderful to see the community step up during these uncertain times. So many donations, not only of masks, but food, coffee, and even pints of ice cream have been given to each employee. Families have left chalk messages around the hospital entrances to encourage all the healthcare workers.
I would love to hear what others are going through as we all navigate this situation together! Please share your stories and any other helpful tips you have for our list of COVID-19 resources."
We want to hear from you! During this time of isolation,
now more than ever we need to see and hear from our PA community! How is COVID-19 affecting your work? What tips and tricks have you found useful? How are you using this time to promote pathologists'
assistants and prepare for PA Day? Send us a summary describing your "new normal", along with one or two high-resolution photos, and your story may be featured next.
Remember, we are all in this together, and the AAPA will be here to support you throughout this crisis and beyond.