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Making a Difference...

Read these 9 profiles about PAs who have been nominated by their peers as representative of the great work performed by Certified PAs. Then click here to read about 9 more spotlighted PAs.

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Johanna Berrigan, PA-C

January 2, 2017

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, PA-C!

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Scott Gordon, PA-C

January 9, 2017

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, PA-C!

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Bonnie Mueller Waigand, PA-C

January 16, 2017

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!

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Daniel Milano, PA-C

January 23, 2017

White Plains Hospital
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Certified PA Daniel Milano makes a difference…

With experience in spine surgery, Daniel (Danny) Milano, PA-C, joined the staff of White Plains Hospital 5 years ago to work with an orthopedic spine surgeon and integrate PAs into the hospital model. Initially he hired two other orthopedic PAs to work with inpatient orthopedic patients and four PAs to work with orthopedic surgeons in the outpatient offices and operating room. That was an unqualified success.

Having proved the PA model for orthopedic services, he brought a proposal to administration using quality metrics and cost analysis to expand coverage to all nine surgical sub-specialties within the hospital. Once he got the green light, Milano hired both PAs and NPs to provide this extensive coverage.

Danny has a methodical approach, which has allowed the integration of PAs in the hospital to grow, and we continue to grow today under his direction,” says Jessica Troy, PA-C.

With the surgical specialty areas such a success, Milano then took on the ICU and CCU units, developing a 24/7 PA infrastructure for the hospital which has allowed him to hire seven additional PAs for both ICU and CCU units.

As Milano’s role has grown at the hospital, he spends much of his time now working in administration. He has spent countless hours mining through data and writing proposals to prove the value of PAs at the hospital. He also serves on many administration boards and committees to learn how both PAs and NPs can best be utilized to improve patient care.

Impact

Milano has worked tirelessly to broaden the utilization of PAs at White Plains Hospital. Because of his efforts, the hospital has seen improved patient outcomes, patient satisfaction, and shorter patient stays.

Everything that he does at work is focused on growing the PA profession and providing the highest level of care for patients. Milano says he is “consistently looking for more ways to meet the needs of patient care and utilize PAs to match that demand.”

His feels his biggest impact is “equipping the hospital with cost effective providers that provide high quality, evidence-based care.”

For proving the case for PA care and integrating PAs throughout White Plains Hospital, NCCPA salutes Danny Milano, PA-C!

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Kim Baker, PA-C

January 30, 2017

MDICS - Carroll Hospital
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Certified PA Kim Baker makes a difference…

Kim Baker, PA-C, has distinguished herself as a leader in both clinical and administrative areas and “has raised the bar for what it means to be a PA within our health system,” says Deanna Bridge Najera, PA-C, who works in the emergency department at the hospital where Baker works in hospital medicine. Because of Baker’s exemplary record in patient care and strong reputation among her colleagues, she was entrusted with the responsibility to start up an observation unit at the hospital to receive patients from the emergency department for treatment and observation before discharge or transfer to inpatient care. In her new role, Baker requested one dedicated hospitalist be scheduled to monitor patients in this observation unit every day. The benefits were immediate and impressive: after just one month, the length of stay for these patients decreased by an average of eight hours, and the percentage of patients that were being transferred to inpatient care decreased by 10%.

Impact

Baker continues to “provide high level, evidence-based medical care in a way that is rewarding for the patients, colleagues, and staff that interact with her,” says Drew White, MD, chief of staff. In addition to her role as director of adult hospitalist services, she serves on numerous hospital committees, and is heavily relied on for input into administrative and clinical care decisions at the hospital. With her increasing responsibilities in administrative roles, Baker still maintains a strong desire to practice clinically. She not only appreciates the opportunity to interact with patients and help make a difference in their lives, she believes it is “critical to practice clinically to understand the needs of the patients, as well as the providers, to find ways to improve the delivery of care.” Dr. White recognizes Baker as “an outstanding representative for the PA profession” as well as “a role model for other PAs who might similarly aspire to take on significant responsibilities in their healthcare setting.”

This outstanding PA has “become an agent of change,” says Najera, and for that, NCCPA salutes Kim Baker, PA-C!

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Ambreen Nadeem,     PA-C

February 6, 2017

InHouse Physicians
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Certified PA Ambreen Nadeem makes a difference…

Ambreen Nadeem was nominated by numerous peers and patients – for good reason. The common theme among them is she truly does have a positive impact on anyone that she comes across, patients and peers alike. Nadeem works for InHouse Physicians, a part-time work-site clinic in a manufacturing building, where the patient population historically has not sought health care services often.

She sees numerous patients a day but makes sure each one understands what preventive care means, not only for themselves - but also for their families. Nadeem says that she keeps in mind that each patient is “someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, etc.”. She makes it a point to get to know each patient personally and finds any way possible to decrease barriers for them to receive quality care. She also goes above and beyond by finding them a PCP or specialist if they do not already have one, so that long term they have a plan for treatment and ongoing medical care.

“At our organization, the term above and beyond is synonymous with Ambreen Nadeem's work ethics. Her compassionate care, guidance and ability to connect and educate her patients, have changed patients' lives,” says her supervisor, Umer Nasim, MD.

Not only does Nadeem see hundreds of patients in the clinical setting, she also makes time to teach “Mindful Eating” classes. Through these classes she helps participants achieve their long term health goals, whether those goals are weight loss, blood pressure management, becoming more fit or glucose control.

Nadeem’s dedication does not end at her own clinic. She has been known to mentor new PAs so they can be successful in their clinics as well. She also loves to teach and has had several pre-PA students shadow her in practice over the past 5 years.

Impact

Not even a full year into Nadeem’s position, the clinic became so busy they had to open an additional day. This was directly due to her commitment to serving her patients.

“Ambreen Nadeem is not only the most thorough and knowledgeable PA I have ever had the pleasure of working for, she lives to change patients’ lives every single day,” says co-worker Daneisha Brown, CCMA.

She equips patients to take better care of themselves by taking the time to sit with a them and discuss their needs thoroughly. Her patients are more aware of what is needed to improve their health and she gives them the tools and education to do so. Nadeem feels her greatest impact is helping her patients “understand their health”.

For her can-do attitude and caring commitment to her patients and peers, NCCPA salutes Ambreen Nadeem!

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Patricia Castillo, PA-C

February 13, 2017

US Department of Veterans Affairs
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Certified PA Patricia Castillo makes a difference…

Patty Castillo, PA-C, is a seasoned clinician who, as an occupational health provider, serves employees at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Hudson Valley, New York. In this role, she cares for the safety and wellness of caregivers who care for our American heroes.

Castillo’s range of clinical practice covers internal medicine, mental health, substance abuse care and occupational medicine. She has served on national VA workgroups designed to improve processes in occupational medicine. She promotes increasing employee influenza vaccination, workplace wellness programs, workplace safety improvement processes, and "mindfulness training" for clinical staff and other caregivers. She recently gave a presentation at the Veterans Caucus about "mindfulness" as an intervention for those who suffer from "compassion fatigue" —from their stressful work with veterans suffering from the visible and invisible wounds of war.

According to Associate Chief of Staff, Dr. Felix Kunjukutty, “Patricia’s knowledge, experience and dedication are great assets. She has brought the occupational health department to a new level. Her grasp of established occupational health rules and regulations safeguard our employees, serves as a resource to staff and ensures streamlined processes. In addition, her understanding of military culture helps her to relate to Veteran employees and whole heartedly embrace the VA ICARE values. She brings efficiency to the team and compassion to those she serves. Working with employees like Mrs. Castillo, motivates you to develop as a supervisor and provider.”

Several national organizations are also benefiting from Castillo’s experience. She serves on the board of directors for PAs for Latino Health and represented the PALH and AAPA at the National Hispanic Medical Association. She is also a member of the 2017 VHA Occupational Health NP/PA Mini-Residency Planning Committee.

Castillo emigrated to the USA with her family in 1971 and became a U.S. citizen in 1978. She began her work in healthcare at a local community health center (CHC) as a phlebotomist, and returned to practice as a PA at this same CHC after graduating from PA school.

She has always focused on the care of the less fortunate and those with both limited access to health care and limited financial resources. Castillo is also a role model for young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds who want to pursue careers in science and healthcare, and she has mentored new PAs to navigate contracts and career progression opportunities.

“I have been blessed by all the services and mentoring that I have been able to provide to my community, my patients, my former students and prospective PA students,” says Castillo. “If I had to choose a profession again, I would proudly choose to be a Certified PA.”

NCCPA salutes Patty Castillo, PA-C for caring for the caregivers at VA Hudson Valley Health Care System and mentoring the next generation of Certified PAs!

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Nicolette McDermott-Ketchum, PA-C

February 20, 2017

Northern Navajo Medical Center (an Indian Health Service hospital)
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Certified PA Nicolette McDermott-Ketchum makes a difference…

Ask Nicolette McDermott-Ketchum, PA-C, her favorite thing about being a Certified PA, and she’ll say it’s “the opportunity to educate her patients on how to control chronic health issues and to improve their overall health.” 

She truly believes in the power of education when treating her patients. Diabetes is the most prevalent chronic condition among her patients, who are predominantly Native American (Navajo), and she knows that taking time to listen to them makes a tremendous difference. As a PA in family medicine, McDermott-Ketchum values the long-term relationships she’s been able to build with her patients. She says: “There’s a high level of trust with each of them. We’re almost like family.”

In addition to her clinical work, McDermott-Ketchum has assumed responsibility for numerous administrative tasks.

  • She coordinates CME courses for staff including a CME video conferencing program with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and on-site courses with visiting Brigham and Women’s staff.
  • With one of her team physicians, Dr. Hatch, she started an arts-in-medicine program for hospital staff and patients (including meditation, tai chi, visual and performing arts).
  • She is very active in promoting employee wellness including self-care for healthcare providers who are likely to get tired and burn out. She also provides a presentation during new employee orientation about how to stay happy and healthy at work. She believes “if you have happy employees, their positive experiences will be translated into a more positive experience for our patients/customers.”
  • She started a PAjama and Hygiene Basket drive for survivors of domestic violence in the community.  Domestic violence is prevalent among McDermott-Ketchum’s patient population, and they are able to benefit from this drive because the supplies are donated to the local shelters.
  • She promotes the PA profession during PA Week at the hospital with an information table and partnership with a domestic violence team that coordinates activities throughout the week including the PAjama drive.
  • She is the clinical representative in their hospital’s employee recognition program.

Impact

Located in the rural Four Corners area in New Mexico, the Northern Navajo Medical Center is the only nearby hospital for these patients, and the providers have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to make an impact in their patients’ lives.  Anyone who has worked with or been treated by McDermott-Ketchum would attest that she does just that. “Ms. McDermott-Ketchum works tirelessly to inform patients, fellow PAs, nurses, doctors and administrators of up-to-date concepts and programs to improve Native American healthcare,” says coworker Judie Bock, PA-C. “She’s enthusiastic about every single one of her patients, responsibilities and projects at the hospital; she makes a positive difference in people’s lives.”

Another coworker, Tracy Kurek, PA-C, says “anyone could simply do what she does, but her dedication and positive attitude when she treats patients or organizes employee events is truly infectious– she just makes people happy.”

McDermott-Ketchum is proud to be a part of the “goodness” going on at Northern Navajo Medical Center. Although they work with limited resources, the employees work together to do “more than just take care of patients.”

For her contributions to the healthcare team and passion for doing whatever it takes to improve the outcome of her patients, NCCPA salutes Nicolette McDermott-Ketchum, PA-C!

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David Hieber, PA-C

February 27, 2017

MedStar Franklin Square Hospital
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Certified PA David Hieber makes a difference…

Dave Hieber, PA-C, worked in EMS during college, experience that cemented his path to PA school and the field of emergency medicine. When he graduated 6 ½ years ago, he joined MedStar Emergency Physicians where he has become the Lead Emergency Medicine PA managing a large group of PAs at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. Those PAs work in all aspects of the emergency department (ED); many, including Hieber, hold a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Emergency Medicine.

“I have fun at work,” Hieber says. “One day recently I left the hospital thinking that I am happier now at the end of my shift than when I started. There aren’t many jobs where you can say that at the end of the day.”

Hieber’s first love is taking care of patients, but he is also focused on process improvement that leads to efficiencies in hospital metrics and patient care. For example, he was recently asked to work on a pilot project to get providers to patients quicker in the ED. The pilot team worked to developed a telemedicine process so that patients are seen by a provider in triage to get their treatment started while they wait.

“There are small hospitals that don’t need a full-time provider in triage but do need part time support,” says Hieber. “My role was to bring my expertise as a PA to the process of how telemedicine triage should operate, what resources would be needed, and what could be done by removing all physical barriers. We discussed how to queue many patients at multiple locations. We tested where the monitors were placed and positive scripting language, and ran simulations with nurses, and actors as patients, to create the most ideal patient experience.”

Now, a physician at a hospital in Maryland can oversee the triage of patients in multiple remote hospital EDs at one time. This allows orders to be started so that results are ready when the patient does see the PA or the doctor in person.

They are now looking to see where else this system could prove beneficial. “We do know that where it is already operational, we have driven down door-to-provider time and decreased length of stay in the ED,” he said.

According to Amanda Joy, PA-C: “Dave is a champion for PAs. He works on projects to not only improve our system but those that have national implications. His work with the telemedicine team could allow PAs in areas with limited attending coverage to have real-time physician consultation for complicated cases. This project has the potential to improve ED flow and allow faster throughput time to departments plagued by overcrowding and hospital systems dealing with higher acuity and boarding. These innovative concepts also have the potential to change access to healthcare for patients living in remote areas.”

Hieber has worked to streamline other processes as well, including one to improve follow up on lab results that come back after the patient has left the ED. The follow up that was previously handled by multiple clinicians in four hospitals in between patient visits was consolidated into one location and staffed by two PAs working part-time to manage all post-discharge labs a few hours a day. This eliminated distractions by providers trying to see patients and do follow ups, and it improved consistency with a single call-back number and a voicemail system. Says Hieber, “This process change allows us to more easily track utilization and quickly identify trends in antibiotic resistance. It also made patients happier as they were not bounced around when they called for results. They were able talk to a provider right away.”

“David leads by example, and innovation is his current impact,” adds Joy.

Hieber sums it up this way: “The job I have enables me to do the things I love best--practice medicine while incorporating my passion to lead initiatives that drive change.”

NCCPA salutes Dave Hieber, PA-C, for his commitment to innovation to improve patient care.

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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