Oona Y-C Lee, (PHD, PA-R) Birmingham

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I continue to work as a physician associate (PA) in both general practice and local Primary Care Network (PCN) hub. I also volunteer in a clinical microbiology laboratory to assist SARS-CoV-2 testing.

As early as the first case of COVID-19 emerged in the UK and before the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic, I proposed a list of screening questions for our surgery when offering clinical appointments to help drive infection control measures. Since the implementation of the national guidance, I joined our team to provide telephone triage services to our surgery and extended hours hub. I formulate management plan for non-COVID-19 patients as a gatekeeper to minimise unnecessary footfall to the surgery under adequate clinical supervision. Examples include the provision of video consultation service and digital clinical photography for dermatology-related queries. Following triage, clinically stable suspected COVID-19 (amber) patients that require further assessment were followed up safely by our team via a home visit or a visit to our surgery/PCN hub. These measures were carefully executed to preserve our local hospital capacity to handle COVID-19 patients during this unprecedented time.

Upon our health secretary Mr Matt Hancock announcing the aim to expand the UK coronavirus testing capacity in early April, I realised that this would be a very challenging task. Despite most of the analytical processes being streamlined to automation in modern hospital laboratories, many tasks still require a significant amount of hands-on time. With years of experience as a postdoctoral medical research fellow, I have taken the initiative to become a COVID-19 lab volunteer at the Heartlands Hospital to help tackle this in addition to my PA work.

I am very proud to be a PA and to provide continuity of care to my patients, as well to contribute towards coronavirus testing on the frontline. It is also my honour to be able to meet people from other professions that share the same mentality to combat this COVID-19 pandemic.