PAs for Global Health | Melanie Jacobs, MMS, PA-C
These are challenging times, but as healthcare workers we are powering through; working in increasingly stressful and unprecedented situations. I am a physician assistant practicing inpatient obstetrics and gynecology. I truly enjoy my job. It is challenging and stimulating, as well as rewarding and enjoyable. Yet, among my friends and family there is a common misconception that my line of work is “always happy.” Many think my daily tasks involve delivering newborns, which is true a majority of the time. But not always. Obstetric emergencies occur: fetal bradycardias, urgent cesarean deliveries, and maternal hemorrhages. And they happen relatively often considering I work in a large tertiary hospital in New York City. Managing the emergencies and high acuity situations is part of the day-to-day.
During the coronavirus pandemic, providers in Ob/Gyn are facing new challenges. Obstetrics is not a medical specialty which can dissolve and redeploy healthcare workers. Labor & Delivery still operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as women need medical support and obstetricians to deliver. The inpatient floor is busy as ever, including triage (the curtained off area where providers assess patients and decide if they meet criteria for admission), or the “Ob ED” as some call it. With the added layer of numerous asymptomatic coronavirus patients and the support persons present, providers including myself are constantly exposed. Treating every patient as a PUI (Persons Under Investigation), we are required to wear PPE and don and doff in every room, until the nasopharyngeal swab results come in. As I end my shift, with cracked knuckles and dry hands, more and more patients’ tests results are positive. This is the new reality.