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

As hospitals around the globe continue to brace themselves for a rise in the number of patients needing care for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the likely increase in fatalities, we, as health care professionals and patient advocates, can be buoyed by the number of treatments under clinical investigation that may restore public health.

As scientists search for ways to end this scourge, we must also continue to remind people to stay home, wash their hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoid touching their faces to stay healthy and protect their friends, neighbors, and other members of the community from infection. In a recently posted Facebook video, Ray Georgen, MD, FACS, American College Surgeons (ACS) Governor from Wisconsin, encourages people to stay home and save the community.

In Seattle, WA, people have been staying home, doing their part to flatten the curve, protect their community, and allow health care facilities to care for the patients in most need. According to ACS Past-President Ronald V. Maier, MD, FACS, FRCSEd(Hon), FCSHK(Hon), FFCS(Hon), the Seattle lockdown has helped to cut the peak projection to less than half, and the state is now positioned to send more than 400 ventilators back to other states in need.

The ACS launched a campaign over the weekend encouraging physical distancing. A growing list of celebrities and athletes have mentioned the ACS in their videos encouraging people to stay home. Most recent examples include South African professional golfer Gary Player and country singer-songwriter Suzy Bogguss.

You can take even more proactive steps to end this pandemic. As noted in the last issue of this newsletter, ACS Operation Giving Back is seeking volunteers for redeployment. In addition, many states have called upon health care professionals to assist in the care and/or to protect the health of individuals in hospitals and other health care facilities because of the COVID-19 outbreak. If you are able and comfortable with providing volunteer services at this time, the ACS encourages you to review state calls to action and current opportunities.

Some surgeons have taken to writing and updating their colleagues on how the virus has affected their work and lives. Craig Smith, MD, FACS, chair, department of surgery, Columbia University, New York, NY, started with a note to his colleagues encouraging them to fearlessly face the coronavirus pandemic: “the positive tests, the disappearing beds, masks, and ventilators, the curve too stubborn to bend.” He has developed a blog to share dispatches from the epicenter of the COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Each message sounds a more hopeful note.

In this issue, surgeons on the front lines in New York City, a COVID-19 epicenter, describe the conditions they care facing and how their emergency departments in particular are being stretched beyond their limits. To respond to this challenge, the College has issued recommendations for managing emergency care systems during the pandemic. The College presented this statement, summarized under Clinical Guidance and Issues, to advisors to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Vice President's Task Force for COVID-19. In addition, the College joined the American Medical Association and many other professional organizations in a letter requesting that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provide immediate financial assistance for physicians on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will get through this public health crisis as we have gotten through so many others—with research, clinical trials, evidence-based medicine, public education, storytelling, and perhaps most importantly, your leadership. We believe this newsletter represents the best of all these keys to a better future for our patients.