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Making a Difference...

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the PA profession this year, NCCPA and the nccPA Health Foundation are spotlighting 50 PAs who are making a difference today. These PAs exemplify the many ways the more than 115,500 Certified PAs demonstrate their passion for delivering high quality health care, promoting wellness, and saving and changing lives. 

Read about previous spotlighted PAs to the right.

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Joanna Berrigan, 

PA-C

Philadelphia Department of Health
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Certified PA Johanna Berrigan makes a difference…

Johanna Berrigan co-founded the Catholic Worker Free Clinic for homeless, uninsured and underinsured adults in Philadelphia in 1991. As co-director, she volunteers as both an administrator and medical provider. Berrigan also co-founded the Kay Lasante “House of Health” project in Port au Prince, Haiti in 2005 and has since helped train an all-Haitian staff. The project became a primary care clinic after a devastating earthquake in 2010 and offers free medical care to all. She currently is a member of the board of directors, heads up U.S. fundraising efforts and continues to visit the clinic several times a year. In the past, Berrigan has lived communally and has brought homeless persons into her community home for 14 of those years. Currently, she works part-time at the Philadelphia Department of Health in the HIV specialty clinic.

Impact

Berrigan has dedicated her career to underserved populations in the U.S. and abroad. “Johanna has impacted many, many patients both in Philadelphia and Haiti, bringing quality, compassionate health care to places where there was none,” says Appel. “She shows great love toward her marginalized patients while offering competent HIV and primary care.”

Berrigan says that being a PA has given her the opportunity to be of service in impoverished areas throughout the world, which has put her in a unique position to advocate for these communities and connect them with other individuals who want to make a difference. “Much of our work is supported by donations,” she says, “and I am the link, sharing the needs of these people with donors who want to help.”

NCCPA salutes Johanna Berrigan!

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Scott Gordon, PA-C

Dr. Ammon Weber’s family medicine clinic
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Certified PA Scott Gordon makes a difference…

Scott Gordon is a PA by day and a police officer by night.

In this rural Texas panhandle practice, Gordon is the only other medical practitioner in Dr. Ammon Weber’s family medicine clinic. They work on separate wings of the same building and may go days without seeing each other. “I trust him,” says Dr Weber, “and I respect the great rapport he has with patients.

Early in his career, a police officer, who was also a patient, asked Gordon to work as a medic on the city SWAT team. For eight years, he was the only team member who didn’t carry a badge.

In 2009, he decided to go to the police academy at night to become an officer and earn that badge. Now every Tuesday after seeing his last patient, he works a full shift as a policeman in Borger, Texas.

When Gordon is not on patrol, he teaches officers and firefighters tactical medicine which has saved at least two lives so far – one from a gunshot wound and another from a bike accident, where both patients would have bled to death if the police officers at the scene had not been recipients of his training.

Impact

Both of these service jobs in the community have helped Gordon forge better relationships between the citizens and the police. For example, he helped fight a synthetic marijuana epidemic with education--by teaching students and the general public about both the dangers to the human body and the legal problems it creates. “I introduce myself as Officer Gordon,” he says, then adds “but most of you know me as PA Scott.

I have seen patients as young as two weeks and as old as 104. I am on my fourth generation of patients—watching them grow up and have their own children. On a recent police call, I spoke to a woman who recognized me. She said 19 years ago she came in for the stomach flu and I wanted her to take a pregnancy test even though she did not think she was pregnant. Her daughter is in college now.

When I was a kid, people supported me and encouraged me. I learned you have to pay it back and help out your community. Being a Certified PA and a cop allows me to make a difference.”

For his service to his community day and night, NCCPA salutes Scott Gordon!

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Bonnie Mueller Waigand, PA-C

Bellin Health
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Certified PA Bonnie Mueller-Waigand makes a difference…

Bonnie Mueller-Waigand, PA-C, has over 1,200 patients that list her as their primary care provider. Even with that large panel of patients she takes the time to get to know each of them. She personally calls patients with results instead of having nursing staff do it so she can ask questions and see if there is anything else they need.

Mueller-Waigand makes sure at-risk patients get cancer screenings yearly and finds ways to promote better health. She comes in on her days off to give patients results that were time-sensitive or that she knows will be difficult to hear. For example, she came in on her vacation to personally deliver the bad news that a patient had cancer. She didn’t want him to have to wait, and she immediately turned him over to the cancer team. This allowed them to schedule other appointments that day so he could get his questions answered.,

Mueller-Waigand is also a leader among her colleagues. She always has a positive attitude, even when carrying an extra load due to staff shortages. “She makes patients feel important and explains staffing changes to them so they understand they will continue to have great care,” says Heim. “She is also the voice of reassurance to other staff.”

Bellin Health recently announced they will accept all walk-in patients. To accommodate the extended clinic hours, Mueller-Waigand frequently adjusts her schedule to see additional patients.

Impact

Mueller-Waigand graduated from high school in this town and worked as an EMT for a few years before attending PA school. “Being a Certified PA has been an important part of my life,” she says. “Working in a rural clinic, emergencies will walk through the door in addition to everyday coughs and colds. I may have to do sutures or splint broken bones. I do my best every day and always try to improve—never stop learning!”

Adds Heim: “Bonnie is the glue that holds our clinic together. She has committed to care for the community that she grew up in. Patients know they are being taken care of and entrust Bonnie with their lives and those of their families.”

For embodying compassionate, personalized care, NCCPA salutes Bonnie Mueller-Waigand, PA-C!

About NCCPA

NCCPA is dedicated to serving the interest of the public. We do so with a passionate belief that certified PAs are essential members of the health care delivery team who provide millions access to more affordable, high quality health care.
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