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Tuesday, April 21, 2020 - 1:45pm


Lorraine Jamieson, assistant professor and clinical coordinator in Mercy’s Physician Assistant (PA) program, is having an epiphany about infection control practices.

Working as a physician assistant at CityMD, a chain of urgent care facilities in Brooklyn, she and her colleagues are providing care to about 100 patients a day, a huge increase since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

Jamieson has discovered first-hand the insufficiency of pre-pandemic infection control guidelines, written when a crisis of this magnitude was unimaginable. “We’re learning that our former practices were no match for the current crisis. That has to change so we can be better prepared in the future,” she said.

For example, each day Jamieson reports to work, she is handed her PPE — personal protective equipment consisting of a N-95 mask, a gown and a face shield. “But some of my colleagues were expected to make the same equipment last all week,” she said. After a public outcry calling for more PPE blazed across the news and social media, equipment donations began arriving at many New York hospitals and clinics. Now caregivers are better protected, and guidelines will be amended accordingly.

Jamieson intends to pass along this hard-won expertise to her Mercy students in the future. “Until now, PA infection control guidelines training has been limited to manageable scenarios,” she said. “Once I’m back in the classroom, whether in person or online, I plan to teach my students best practices for providing care — for their patients as well themselves — during a pandemic.”

Essential medical workers like Jamieson know they are the strongest line of defense against the panic and worry they see in their patients. But she and her colleagues need looking after, too. After hours, they send each other text messages to offer cheer and reassurance, and to exchange “wow” stories about the people they are helping.

“It’s so important to work together as a team,” she said. “None of us can do it alone.”

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