Member of the Month: Alyssa Molina, MD, MPH
Full-spectrum family physician cares for patients, directs EMS
By Kate Alfano
Alyssa Molina, MD, MPH, practices full-spectrum family medicine in Eagle Lake, population 3,710. Her clinic, with three physicians and two midlevel providers, is one of two associated with the local hospital. The other clinic is in East Bernard with two physicians and one midlevel provider. She helps provide emergency room coverage for the local hospital during the week and sees her inpatients in the hospital. Because the local hospital no longer provides obstetric services, she provides OB and newborn care at another nearby facility, Columbus Community Hospital. She is the county health/EMS director and during the COVID-19 pandemic, she has stepped up meetings to several times a week to coordinate the response in her area, all while she focuses at home on helping her kids with their virtual learning.
How has your practice changed/adapted to serve patients during the COVID-19 pandemic?
With regard to practice changes in response to COVID-19, we have made several adjustments. We have separated our patient visit types such that all non-respiratory patients are managed earlier in the day, then the respiratory/sick patients are managed in the latter portion of the day. When patients arrive, we have them call the front office and wait in their cars to be seen, rather than sit in the waiting room. We have had some providers doing telemedicine for the past several years, but now all of our providers are regularly doing telemedicine visits. When patients call to make an appointment, they are asked a series of screening questions. For patients that, based screening questions, seem at risk for COVID-19, our nurse manager calls them back to get a fuller explanation of their situation. If they are otherwise healthy and not in duress, we are able to arrange for lab testing for COVID without a clinic visit, to limit the exposure of our staff and other patients.For patients with co-morbidities who screen positive or at risk for COVID infection, we are seeing them in their cars to help limit how much PPE is used.
Why did you choose family medicine?
As I went through clerkships I did in my first two years, I liked psych, and OB, and kidney. Then in my third year, I really enjoyed pediatrics, pediatric surgery, and then pediatric burns. I loved delivering babies, but I always wanted to know where the baby went. In pediatrics, we had newborns but I was interested in the moms, too. However, the weirdest thing happened when I started my family medicine rotation. I felt like I was home. I realized I love this, I love the variety of patients, I love the way family medicine looks at the whole patient — not just their physical state, but their social, emotional and mental state as well.
Who or what keeps you going on the hard days?
Several things keep me going on the hard days. My patients inspire and challenge me, as do my co-workers. I love the breadth of family medicine. I love the satisfaction of seeing people get better. I appreciate the privilege of being allowed to witness life's most intimate moments — birth and death. My coworkers are such dedicated and gifted professionals.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about the current pandemic?
I am so inspired by the collaboration I am seeing between physicians across the globe and across specialties. I am also very touched by the ways my fellow Americans have reached out to support health care professionals. We have had food dropped off at the clinic and at our local EMS stations, we have had masks donated by a local sewing group, and we have seen a lot of support online. This is so heart-warming and makes me feel so proud to be a Texan.
Certainly this pandemic has taken some things from me: I miss hugging my patients and co-workers when great stuff happens. I miss hanging out with my friends. I miss leisurely trips to the mall or to a restaurant. I miss gathering with my family to celebrate holidays and special events. But I know why I'm doing this — I know our responsibility to flatten the curve and protect the most vulnerable in our society. Though these are sacrifices, they are a small price to pay for a loved one's health.
TAFP’s Member of the Month program highlights Texas family physicians in TAFP News Now and on the TAFP website. We feature a biography and a Q&A with a different TAFP member each month and his or her unique approach to family medicine. If you know an outstanding family physician colleague who you think should be featured as a Member of the Month or if you’d like to tell your own story, nominate yourself or your colleague by contacting TAFP by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (512) 329-8666. View past Members of the Month here.