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

Surgeon Voices in the COVID-19 Era

From the Frontlines

In this issue, American College of Surgeons (ACS) Regent Steven D. Wexner, MD, PhD (Hon), FACS, FRCS (Eng), FRCS (Ed), FRCSI (Hon), Hon FRCS (Glasg), Director, Digestive Disease Center at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston, interviews David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Hoyt is responsible for the daily management of the College in the context of the long-term vision of the largest surgical society in the world. In addition to providing services to 83,000 Fellows and members in the U.S. and throughout the world, the ACS is a resource to virtually every specialty surgical society, other medical specialty societies, and government agencies. Dr. Hoyt describes how ACS has rapidly and efficiently helped in the prioritization of surgery in preparation for and during the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, and then offers guidance for restarting elective surgery.

Dr. Wexner also interviews Prof. Jakob Itzbicki, MD, PhD, FACS, FRCSEd(Hon), Professor of Surgery and Chairman, Department of General Visceral and Thoracic Surgery, and Surgeon-in-Chief, University of Hamburg, Germany. Prof. Itzbicki is a leading academic surgeon who has been president of the prestigious European Surgical Association. He offers his perspective on why the effect of COVID-19 in Germany was considerably less than it has been in other neighboring countries, including Spain and Italy.

Finally, Dr. Wexner interviews Prof. Charles H. Knowles, MBBChir, PhD, FRCS, FRCS (Gen Surg), Professor of Surgery, Barts Health NHS Trust and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London; Director, National Bowel Research Centre; and Deputy Director of Research, The Blizard Institute, UK. In addition to his role as the chair of surgery at one of the major medical schools in London, he is a songwriter, musician, and performer. He recently wrote a ballad to memorialize the National Health Service workers who succumbed to COVID-19. He also introduced an innovative program to help medical students participate in the battle against COVID-19.

Surgeon Discusses How Trauma-Informed Care Can Clarify Nonmedical Effects of COVID-19

Addressing COVID-19 might seem a world apart from healing the injuries and violence that necessitate trauma surgery, but there are lessons to be learned from the modern concept of trauma-informed care in relation to the pandemic. In a video message, Tanya Zakrison, MD, MPH, FACS, acute care and trauma surgeon and Associate Professor, University of Chicago Medicine, IL, discusses how trauma-informed care helps surgeons to be mindful of the societal and economic factors that precede trauma and can lead to future injuries. These factors also can determine the long-term impact on those individuals affected by COVID-19—patients and health care workers alike.

Dr. Zakrison discusses three key points through the environmental and situational prism of trauma-informed care: health care worker wellness, the societal issues of equity and inclusion, and the structural violence and discrimination that affect patients. Understanding health care worker moral distress in treating critically ill and dying patients, the rising bias against Asian-Americans and iniquities in access to COVID-19 testing, and the clear inequality in how COVID-19 is affecting poor minority communities compared with whites offers a baseline to build appropriate governmental and community response, according to Dr. Zakrison. Watch her video message.

Insights from Young Fellows Association Members

Maria Tudela Lerma, MD, PhD, a general surgeon at Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, Madrid, Spain, offers thoughts on COVID-19. Problems include delays in oncologic surgery, personal protective equipment, and intensive care unit (ICU) nurse shortages, but organized surgeons are an asset in stressful ICUs.

Jennifer Knight Davis, MD, FACS, a trauma and critical care surgeon at West Virginia University Medicine, Morgantown, talks about wellness activities at her institution, including a morale officer who coordinates volunteers and donations, whiteboards for staff shout outs and questions, therapy dogs, and more.

Prof. Ian Civil Reports on COVID-19 Response in New Zealand

Prof. Ian D. S. Civil, BSc, MBChB, FRACS, FACS, FACS(Hon), Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Auckland, and a general and vascular surgeon and director of trauma services, Auckland City Hospital, New Zealand, describes his country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

Return to “Normalcy”?

In our continuing series, we include additional reflections from Anthony J. Vine, MD, FACS, Asst. Clinical Professor of Surgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, NY, and Member, Board of Governors, American College of Surgeons. Read more here.