Letters to the Editor: California is still limiting physician assistants as ICUs fill up

A physician checks on a COVID-19 patient at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: I am a critical care physician assistant. PAs are medical practitioners, trained like generalist physicians; we diagnose and treat most illnesses and conditions. We are licensed to provide education, perform procedures, prescribe medications, order and interpret medical studies and create treatment plans. (“L.A. County outlines wrenching moves to ration healthcare if COVID-19 hospital crisis worsens,” Dec. 19)

Currently there are more than 13,000 PAs in California who are being excluded from pandemic service. This is an egregious oversight. I am trained in critical care, I work in an intensive care unit every day, and I am not allowed to contribute my knowledge and skill set to pandemic victims.

Why? Because outdated laws have not kept pace with modern-day medical practice. Last week I volunteered for and received a denial from the Disaster Healthcare Volunteers of California, which told me it is not currently hiring PAs. My education and training are being wasted right now.


I have already implored Gov. Gavin Newsom to unbridle PAs during this period of emergent need. To deny us the ability to act as we are trained is to tie our capable hands and deprive many of our citizens, who already fall victim to healthcare disparities, access to providers who are trained and ready to serve.

Rebecca Dodd, Sacramento


To the editor: Seven months ago the Mercy, a naval hospital ship, departed the Port of Los Angeles. Local hospitals had handled the first surge and its services were no longer needed.

Where is the Mercy now? Los Angeles ICUs are full. Hospitals are juggling patients in desperate need. Heart attacks are still occurring, and patients who are critically ill from other causes must receive important care too.

This is the moment for our representatives to push for the support that could be so effectively provided by the Mercy. I called my representative in Congress about this; I hope other readers join me and call theirs.

Karen Weinstein, Los Angeles



To the editor: President Trump and some of his closest associates survived what appeared to be bad cases of COVID-19. They recovered because a Compassionate Use Advisory Committee said that they should survive.

There is a treatment for COVID-19 that can save lives, but this committee has not made it available to the rest of us. So why have more than 300,000 Americans been allowed to die when the federal government knows there is a proven treatment available?

You should be as angry as I am. We need full access to Regeneron’s monoclonal antibodies, just as Trump and his friends had.

Linda Bradshaw Carpenter, Los Angeles