Paula Bowes, PA-C, is a hospital medicine physician assistant in Spokane who signed up at WASERV.ORG — a state registry for Washington state citizens who wish to volunteer their services — when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Even though each county had a health department, none had enough medical supplies or medical/nursing providers to facilitate containment or mitigation strategies. So, Governor Inslee allocated funds and ordered the state DOH to develop what is now the medical surge group. They obtained medical supplies like hospital beds, personal protective equipment, ventilators, sanitizers, oxygen tanks, pillows and sheets, and even RVs to provide housing to COVID-positive patients who cannot properly quarantine due to their current living situation.
The ambulatory medical surge team response includes not just trailers with equipment but also skilled healthcare providers. The model was designed to send out a ten bed package, short-term nursing staff, a PA and members of the National Guard. Together, the team would travel throughout the state at the beckoning of any county, bringing with them much-needed medical supplies that are strategically stored across the state. They provide medical relief for no more than 72 hours before they are deployed to a different county.
PA Bowes states the program is here to stay, “It is so different than anything I’ve ever done and everyday is different. Plus, I love being a part of the solution.” She encourages anyone interested in sharing their expertise during this difficult time to go to WASERV.ORG.
Desert Aire, Wash.