On the Front Lines: The Role of Medical Assistants During a Pandemic
Every hour of the day, every day of the week, our healthcare heroes have been battling on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their efforts have effectively flattened the curve and continue to save the lives of thousands of Americans.
During a pandemic as historic as the one we are currently facing, medical professionals are forced to work harder than they already were before the outbreak of the disease.
As our hospitals and medical centers face an influx of new patients, medical assistants have been tasked with maintaining the medical records of these new patients, all while helping the rest of their medical team throughout their day.
This article will highlight the role of Medical Assistants (MAs) during the COVID-19 pandemic and how their responsibilities and workload may be affected by the outbreak.
How The Pandemic Affects a Medical Assistant’s Daily Responsibilities
When the healthcare system isn’t battling a global pandemic, the medical assistant’s role is to perform many administrative and clinical duties.
These administrative duties include answering phones, greeting patients, recording and maintaining patients’ medical records, and managing the billing and bookkeeping of their employers.
MAs also perform necessary laboratory tests, draw blood, take electrocardiograms, and prepare patients for examination.
While MA’s may not be draped in PPE and dealing with COVID-19 patients all day long, that doesn’t mean their workload hasn’t increased drastically over the past few months.
Furthermore, along with the surge in new patients comes the increased need to organize and maintain their medical records. MAs have the responsibility of loading all the patients into the schedule and prepping for the day.
Due to the social distancing requirements, many MAs have to check in patients online and fill out the paperwork for these patients. With each new patient comes paperwork and forms that must be filled out prior to treatment. Managing all of these new patients paperwork poses a challenge to MAs, but they rise to the occasion.
With doctors and nurses becoming overloaded with new patients, MAs may need to perform more of the first stage procedures. They are responsible for recording the patients’ weight and taking their vitals while they enter this information in to the physical exam notes. MAs have to do this for each and every patient that enters their hospital or clinic, therefore the surge in new patients has forced MAs to consistently be on their feet and multitasking.
On top of these responsibilities, medical assistants must wear PPE and be very conscious of their actions in order to prevent infection and ensure the safety of their coworkers and family. This can cause a lot of anxiety for MAs and make it difficult to remain calm and collected throughout their shift.
COVID-19’s Effect on the Healthcare System
The coronavirus has posed an unprecedented challenge to the healthcare community.
The most obvious challenge that our healthcare heroes are facing is an increased risk of infection. COVID-19 has been a complicated disease to contain because of its ability to be spread by asymptomatic people.
Since medical assistants (and the rest of their larger medical teams) must come into contact with hundreds of people throughout their shift, they face a much higher risk of being infected. Not to mention, new COVID-19 patients are entering the healthcare system every single day.
Although healthcare workers do wear masks, gloves, and other PPE to avoid contagion, there has unfortunately been a severe shortage of medical supplies and PPE in the American healthcare system. This has forced medical professionals to get crafty and create their own DIY solutions while waiting for supplies to be replenished.
Challenges Faced by Our Eagle Gate Graduates
In our Front Lines Stories series, we featured the inspiring stories of a few of Eagle Gate College Graduates who are on the frontlines of COVID-19.
We asked these heroes about the most challenging aspects of their job in recent weeks and how the pandemic has affected their work. Here are some of the responses they kindly shared with us.
“(The pandemic) It has affected my externship by not letting me complete all my hours a week because I have to make sure I’m safe for my daughter, so I can only do a few hours a day. (The most challenging aspect of my job has been) trying to get to know the patients and also learning how to chart everything correctly in the EHR systems.”
– Lizette Vasquez, Medical Assistant
Read Lizette’s full story here.
“(The pandemic) has affected us a lot. Instead of meeting with patients, we are having to call them or visit them virtually. Also, we now have to wear PPE in the clinic. Everyone is on edge and having to worry about our families and our patients. We are also worried about our healthcare brother and sister. I’m constantly worried about how we can keep our family and coworkers safe. I’ve been hypersensitive and more diligent about washing hands, changing clothes, and trying to stay away from family.”
– Janell Crose-Myer, Medical Assistant
Read Janell’s full story here.
Despite All The Challenges, Our Healthcare Heroes Persevere
We would like to express our sincerest gratitude to the medical assistants as well as all our healthcare heroes for their tireless efforts in battling COVID-19.
Thank you all. We are so proud of you!