KU Cares: Jayhawks on the Front Lines - Sara (McClinton) Toalson

Sara (McClinton) Toalson is a certified Physician Assistant (PA-C), which is a medical professional who has the ability to diagnose, prescribe, and create treatment plans for patients. Toalson works as a family medicine Physician Assistant for Olathe Health and played volleyball at the University of Kansas from 2011-14.

Learn more about her experiences as a Physician Assistant during the COVID-19 pandemic below.

Q: How has COVID-19 affected your position?

(McClinton) Toalson: I typically work in multiple family medicine walk-in clinics. I provide patients with same day medical care. In response to COVID-19 we have increased contact precautions throughout the clinics, especially with patients who have possible COVID-19 symptoms. We wear personal protective equipment and take necessary precautions to reduce exposure to other patients. In addition to managing patients in the family medicine walk-in clinics, I also was invited to be part of a team to launch Telehealth throughout the hospital and associated outpatient clinics. Telehealth allows patients to have video visits with their healthcare providers. This is especially important during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, because it allows more patients to be able to stay at home, and reduce their exposure risk.

Q: What has been one of the biggest learning lessons from the pandemic?

(McClinton) Toalson: I have learned that as a community we can achieve anything together. We can support each other when times are tough.  We can take care of one another. This mentality is something that I hope lasts well beyond the pandemic.

Q: How has this affected the hospital/clinic that you work at?

(McClinton) Toalson: My hospital created an entire floor dedicated to COVID-19 patients. The family medicine clinics I work at have increased contact precautions, and have found ways to reduce exposures of our patients and our staff. As providers we have had to be very adaptable, as protocols for patient care often change as we learn new information about COVID-19.

Q: How has your community been affected?

(McClinton) Toalson: We have had strict stay at home orders, and increased precautions to flatten the curve. Many people have adapted to working from home, and attending online school.

Q: How are you, your co-workers handling the pandemic?

(McClinton) Toalson: My co-workers and I all took an oath to take care of others when we started our careers. That oath has really been put to the test during this pandemic. We have had to put aside any fears or uncertainty during this time, and risk our lives to help take care of others. This pandemic is nothing that we could have predicted, but helping others is what we do. And we do so with a smile on our faces. Feeling the outpouring of support from the community has helped encourage us to stay strong, and keep fighting COVID-19.

Q:What advice do you have for anyone reading your story?

(McClinton) Toalson: My advice is to check-in on your loved ones throughout this difficult time. It is important to help each other to maintain good mental health while many people are feeling stress, fear, anxiety, isolated or lonely. These are all appropriate feelings during this pandemic. It is crucial that we acknowledge those feelings, because mental health is just as important as physical health. Reach out to your friends and family to see how they are doing. A simple phone call or text can go a long way. Also, if you are experiencing those feelings yourself, a healthcare provider is always here to help you.

Q: Anything else you would like to say to Kansas Athletics, and the Lawrence community?

(McClinton) Toalson: The rigorous coursework that I took at the University of Kansas prepared me excellently for PA school. I was constantly challenged academically to strive for more.  Kansas Athletics has provided me with many tools to be a better Healthcare provider and excel in my career. Teamwork, community service, leadership, and compassion are just a few of those tools. Rock Chalk! Stay safe Jayhawks!