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

As cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) plateau in some areas of the U.S. and peak in others, the challenges associated with the pandemic continue to evolve. In this 10th issue of Bulletin: ACS COVID-19 Updates, we turn the spotlight to challenges rural surgeons, hospitals, and patients are experiencing. Rural hospitals have been closing for more than a decade for a variety of reasons, but as CNN reports, halting elective operations during the pandemic has resulted in increasing financial problems and more closures.

Three Fellows of the College from rural and remote communities offer their perspectives on how they have prepared for and are rising to the challenges of providing optimal care to their patients. In a video, Michael Sarap, MD, FACS, a general surgeon in southeastern Ohio, sums up his experience with COVID-19 in two words: “preparation” and “anticipation.” In another video, Julie Conyers, MD, MBA, FACS, a general surgeon in Ketchikan, AK, describes the challenges of testing for COVID-19 in a timely manner, as specimens must be shipped to Fairbanks to confirm whether a patient has COVID-19. In addition, Crystal Cunningham, MD, FACS, Navajo Nation, Chinle, AZ, shares the challenges specific to her community and emphasizes the importance of leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) also remains committed to the development of accurate and reliable testing, and to scientific research to both curtail the spread of COVID-19 and to assist in discovering a cure and vaccine. To this end, the leaders of this organization encourage hospitals to contribute to the ACS COVID-19 Registry, which was implemented on April 17. The overarching priority of this registry is to collect important clinical patient data on COVID-19 patients who did not undergo surgery, as well as COVID-19 patients who did, to help us understand the effects of procedures on adults with the disease and to determine when surgery is appropriate for this patient population. Learn more about the ACS COVID-19 Registry.

The College continues to encourage social and physical distancing. An article and video in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrates how aerosols and droplets generated during speech may influence the spread of COVID-19. In addition, Patricia L. Turner, MD, FACS, Director, ACS Division of Member Services, has created a video emphasizing the importance of wearing a mask whenever out in public.

We also highlight the media attention the ACS has garnered after releasing guidance for resuming elective operations and encourage surgeons to contribute to our understanding of this disease. Frank G. Opelka, MD, FACS, Medical Director, ACS Quality and Health Policy, spoke with Channel 2 News, the CBS News Chicago, IL, affiliate, April 20 about the need to start incrementally providing surgical services to patients to forestall the worsening of their health and well-being.