BY ADINA GENN | Physician Assistant Erin Hunt was named the 2023 PA of the Year for Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion by the New York State Society of Physician Assistants (NYSSPA) this week.
“This is a well-earned honor. Since joining Northwell Health-GoHealth in 2016, Erin has been an advocate for patients and team members,” said Dr. Neal Shipley, medical director for Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care. “She is both visionary and practical in her efforts to improve the health and wellness of our New York communities.”
NYSSPA’s annual membership awards are presented to exemplary physician assistants and physician advocates who are dedicated to advancing the PA profession. Award winners will be recognized on Nov. 11 at a ceremony during the organization’s annual conference.
PA Hunt is the advanced practitioner lead for 18 Northwell Health-GoHealth locations — including 41 E. Eighth St., in Greenwich Village, and 225 W. 23rd St., in Chelsea. As such, she oversees roughly 90 advanced-care practitioners and numerous special projects.
According to Northwell Health, Hunt is an accomplished clinician and “an agent of change” in the healthcare industry. She has been an integral part of improving her community while creating a culture of change.
Through her projects, PA Hunt advocates for equitable and inclusive care for L.G.B.T.Q.+ patients and their families, supports her colleagues in the establishment of employee resource groups, and has initiated a grant-supported program to help expand access to care for individuals at high risk of contracting H.I.V. When the COVID-19 pandemic decreased patients’ access to H.I.V. screening, Hunt worked to bring free, rapid H.I.V. screening to 14 Northwell Health-GoHealth centers in New York City neighborhoods where H.I.V. prevalence is high.
Through this pilot program, her team hopes to advocate for New York State legislation to include urgent-care providers in the state’s H.I.V. screening mandate. If successful, this would increase access to care for millions of patients statewide.
This year, Hunt and her team have also focused on improving patient care for all by increasing team member education around L.G.B.T.Q.+ care, including strengthening and disseminating nondiscrimination policies, and encouraging proper use of pronouns and intake questions during patient visits. In 2019, Northwell Health-GoHealth achieved the Health Equity Index (HEI) designation, which is awarded to healthcare organizations that promote equitable and inclusive care for L.G.B.T.Q.+ patients and their families.
Hunt has also been a leader in improving clinical quality. She led Northwell Health-GoHealth providers in her region to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing practices to record lows of less than 3 percent — as compared to 30 percent in outpatient settings nationwide.
“Improving our antibiotic stewardship requires careful consideration of each patient’s needs and if antibiotic treatment is right for them. Then, we need to determine the right drug, dose and duration for treatment,” Hunt said. “The downstream benefits of antibiotic stewardship include improved patient outcomes, fewer drug reactions and side effects, a lower chance of creating new superbugs, and lower costs at the pharmacy for patients.”
PA Hunt has been a speaker at national conferences of the Urgent Care Association, and has been instrumental in Northwell Health-GoHealth earning the 2019 Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) award for clinical quality.
In addition to her professional accomplishments, PA Hunt is the mother of three young children. She co-founded a team member resource group, GoMamas, to give fellow working parents a forum to share support, ideas and resources.