Online April 7, 2020
As many U.S. cities are challenged with rapidly rising numbers of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, their health care systems are at risk of being overwhelmed. This puts lives at risk, not only for patients suffering from COVID-19 infection, but patients with common time-sensitive medical and surgical emergencies such as traumatic injury, myocardial infarction, and stroke. Traumatic injury is the leading cause of death and disability for Americans under the age of 45 years, and trauma center and trauma systems have been established to ensure that severely injured patients have access to lifesaving care. We have heard from many of the major trauma centers in New York, NY, that their ability to care for injured patients is severely compromised as a result of this crisis. In light of the challenges faced at this time by the surge of COVID-19 patients in New York City and likely to follow in many other U.S. cities, we call for strategies to preserve capacity and capability to care for these patients. To that end we have outlined the following series of recommendations for hospital and health care system leaders to consider when facing this challenge.