As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads across the U.S., the ongoing inequities of the nation’s health care system are being exposed. Several prominent Fellows of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), including ACS Past-President L.D. Britt, MD, MPH, DSc(Hon), FACS, FCCM, FRCSEng(Hon), FRCSEd(Hon), FWACS(Hon), FRCSI(Hon), FCS(SA)(Hon), FRCSGlasg(Hon), and ACS Regent Henri R. Ford, MD, MHA, FACS, FRCS, FAAP, offered their perspective on the disproportionate toll the epidemic is taking on the African-American community in an opinion piece published last Friday in USA Today. That same day, this newsletter included an analysis of the root causes of these disparities.
In this issue, we explore opportunities for health care systems and individual institutions to prepare for the anticipated surge in the number of patients who are COVID-19 positive and in need of inpatient care and stabilization. The lessons learned by a small military surgical team who had to transition into a pandemic response team during the COVID-19 pandemic can offer insights for medical centers across the U.S. that are adapting in a rapidly changing environment. The medical team’s recommendations are published as the “article in press” on the Journal of the American College of Surgeons website.
In addition, this issue highlights the efforts carried out by our Division of Advocacy and Health Policy to work with legislators and regulators to develop policies that will ensure the fiscal health of surgical practices. Interviews with Frank Opelka, MD, FACS, Medical Director, Quality and Health Policy, and Patrick Bailey, MD, MLS, FACS, Medical Director, Advocacy, are featured.
The ACS continues to advocate for social distancing and to remind people to take the necessary precautions to avoid spreading the virus when they must leave their home. Last Friday, former San Diego Chargers placekicker Rolf Benirschke partnered with the ACS to ask people to help their communities by practicing social distancing. Mr. Benirschke reached out to other former professional athletes in Southern California to encourage San Diego residents to “get off the field and stay on the bench.”
Many exciting developments are occurring to flatten the curve and to provide optimal patient care during this pandemic. We strongly encourage members of this organization to remain engaged with their institutional leaders to ensure the safety of their colleagues and their patients.