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

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) is at the head of the pack in ensuring that health care professionals remain at the forefront of efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic. We are attempting to provide the most up-to-date information on a situation that is changing rapidly. The College leadership and others review content before it is released. However, given the nature of the situation and how quickly the science is evolving, what is presently thought to be accurate may change.

The ACS has taken a leadership role in advocating for all health care professionals to have access to the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to safeguard themselves, their colleagues, and their patients in the patients in this crisis. Our values are summarized in a brief statement that was disseminated to all members earlier this week. The Council of Medical and Surgical Societies has adopted similar language in a statement.

The ACS is working hard to protect your financial interests. Recently, a series of actions have been taken by the federal government to reduce the financial stress caused by the response to COVID-19. These include easier access to small business loans (including to individuals who would not have previously been eligible), loan forgiveness, advances on anticipated Medicare payments, and deferrals on certain loan and tax payments.

These programs have overlapping eligibility and differing requirements, so figuring out which ones apply or are best for your specific situation can seem daunting. However, these programs are meant to help businesses, including physician practices, stay afloat during this unique, time limited crisis, and are therefore designed to be as streamlined as possible with expedited decisions on whether you qualify. We include resources in this edition. Click here to learn more.

And as the virus spreads, it is of increasing importance that health care professionals and other members of our communities protect themselves. The concept of viral load demands it. It is nearly impossible to tell who has been infected with COVID-19 until he or she is displaying symptoms. Li Wenliang, MD, the Chinese physician who raised early awareness of the new coronavirus, died of the virus in February at 34 years old. It is believed that he, like the growing number of young, otherwise healthy people now being diagnosed with the illness, died from repeated and prolonged exposure to the virus.

Several anecdotal reports of higher rates of mortality among health care personnel have reported in the media.  At this time, no reliable data have been published nor do we have direct unpublished numbers from hot zones.  However, we believe it is important that health care professionals take viral load issues into consideration as we address this crisis in our institutions and communities. To safeguard ourselves we wisely use PPE and must encourage social distancing in the general public.

Despite all the evidence that is emerging to show how insidious this disease is and how no one is safe from it, times of crisis often bring out the worst in some people. As a result, we are seeing an increasing number of reports that people of Asian descent are being harassed simply because Wuhan, China, was the original epicenter of the virus. The College is issuing comments on discrimination today.

Perhaps no area of the College is as well equipped to respond to disasters and humanitarian crises as Operation Giving Back, which is developing a toolkit to help surgeons redeploy to hot zones. In anticipation that this situation will escalate soon throughout the U.S., Operation Giving Back has devised a plan to collect names of available volunteers, identify their skill sets, and map this information where it may be used for rendering medical assistance in areas of need. If you are willing to volunteer in any capacity, please take the survey.

Many companies have stepped up to protect health care personnel and the public. Patagonia has shut down for several weeks due to the pandemic and continues to pay employees. Other retailers have also temporarily ceased operations. Several companies and universities have contributed to the cause by manufacturing face shields and ventilator motors.

We continue to receive and share public service announcements that notable individuals have shared with us. Since the last newsletter, two musicians, including Grammy award winning artists Keb’ Mo’ and Michael McDonald, and WWE wrestler Ric Flair have partnered with the ACS to encourage people to stay at home. Please share these social messages within your network.

We will continue to share information with you on our website, www.facs.org, and on ACS social media channels, in between newsletter editions.