American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Various parts of the U.S. are preparing to incrementally offer surgical services that have been deferred until their state and local governments, as well as public health officials, were certain medical centers had the capacity and resources to care for patients with COVID-19 and those who have not been infected. To help surgeons and hospitals through the transition, the April 17 issue of this newsletter provided guidance on ramping up elective surgical care. This issue highlights efforts to help surgeons deal with the impact that COVID-19 has had on their financial stability and to explore new treatment options.

This week, both chambers of Congress passed and President Trump signed into law The Paycheck Protection and Health Care Enhancement Act, which allocates an additional $321 billion for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and an additional $60 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Set aside in the $321 billion of additional funds approved for the PPP is $60 billion for small- to medium-sized banks and other financial institutions. The legislation also includes an additional $75 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund.

The American College of Surgeons’ (ACS) Practice Protection Committee has been monitoring the situation closely and continues to offer guidance on how members of the organization can apply for and responsibly use these funds to rejuvenate their practices. The Practice Protection Committee will host a new webinar, Contractual Considerations, Hospital Relations, and COVID-19 Financial Resources, Monday, April 27, at 7:00 pm Eastern Time. Register here.

As an organization that has been dedicated to improving our understanding of the causes of surgical disease and quality improvement, the College has now developed the ACS COVID-19 Registry. This registry is available to all hospitals interested in collecting important clinical patient data for a disease about which little is known. The registry gathers data on surgical and nonsurgical COVID-19-positive patients. The ACS COVID-19 Registry is a quality improvement program and has been officially granted non-human subject research status, which does not require institutional review board oversight. Participation in the registry is free of charge, and all hospitals that provide services to COVID-19 patients are encouraged to share their data.

The College also is concerned about the potential effects of COVID-19 on surgical education. The ACS Academy of Master Surgeon Educators is launching an effort to examine the impact and develop recommendations for the future.

It is important to bear in mind that the whole world is experiencing the effects of this pandemic. Prof. Ian Civil eloquently articulates the disease's limited health care but significant economic impact on New Zealand.

Many new reports are being published on the use of ventilators, proning, and other techniques to treat COVID-19. Some of the information can be confusing or even alarmist. Surgeons and other health care professionals continue to study the epidemiology of COVID-19.

We will get through this health care and economic crisis together—through collaboration, scientific study, and compassion. These are the characteristics you demonstrate every day in your institutions and communities, and for that, we salute you.