My pre-COVID work involved primarily seeing gastroenterology patients in clinic, chasing and actioning results, writing to GPs and patients and answering queries from patients who phone in. In addition, I assisted with PEG tube placements and taught on the De Montfort University (DMU) PA Programme.
At the start of lockdown, I became involved with a department effort to identify our inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients as high-risk for COVID-19 in order to contact them and recommend shielding. I have continued to help with this through refining a centralised Leicester IBD database. These efforts have required many hours of trawling through clinic letters and results and cooridnating existing datasets.
Outpatient clinics have transitioned to telephone clinics, which have their pros and cons. They certainly work well for some patients; for others though, I am reminded of the value of a proper abdominal exam. Counselling patients regarding escalation of treatment for IBD flares now has an extra layer of complexity given the risks of starting a new immunosuppressive medication in the current climate.
We continue to place PEGs at the moment, mostly for head and neck cancer patients in order to prevent their radiotherapy from being delayed. As PEGs are an aerosol generating procedure this involves staff wearing FFP3 masks, face shields, gloves and gowns.
University work is obviously different as well and involves uploading teaching materials for students to review at home. I haven't yet been needed on the wards but I remain prepared for that possibility.