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

The Communication Pulse: Leadership and Member Perspectives

100 Words

How many times in training or practice have you planned on leaving the hospital and, for one reason or another, you have been called to evaluate a patient who is not doing well? Perhaps that patient needed to emergently return to the operating room to control bleeding or needed resuscitation. Perhaps the family wanted to speak with you in person. Despite your fatigue, you answered the call and responded to the patient’s need. That is the life of a surgeon. Our emergence from COVID-19 is similar to our unexpected “call back.” Let’s go the extra distance and answer the call.

— Beth H. Sutton, MD, FACS, Chair, American College of Surgeons (ACS) Board of Regents
— L. Scott Levin, MD, FACS, Vice-Chair, ACS Board of Regents

Mask the City

ACS Regent Anthony Atala, MD, FACS, discusses Mask the City, a Winston-Salem, NC, community safety initiative that aims to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by providing everyone in the city with access to masks.

On a related theme, read Measures for the Prevention and Control of Respiratory Infections in Military Camps from a 1918 issue of JAMA.

Surgeon Voices

In this issue, 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, Weston, FL, interviews the following surgeons:

Mary T. Hawn, MD, MPH, FACS, Emile Holman Professor in Surgery and chair, department of surgery, Stanford University, CA, discusses the success that Stanford has had in ramping up surgical services as the COVID-19 pandemic has stabilized in California. Although Stanford avoided a large surge in COVID-19 patients because of several environmental factors, the institution’s formation of a committee to make decisions on resuming surgery may prove helpful as a template for other hospitals.

Raul Cutait, MD, PhD, professor of surgery, Universidade de São Paulo School of Medicine, and chief, colorectal surgery, Hospital Sírio-Libanês, São Paulo, Brazil, describes his experience as a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit, twice intubated for more than two weeks in total and now recovered. In addition to discussing inequities of care in Brazil, Dr. Cutait speaks about the pain his family felt as he worked through the illness, as well as a newfound perspective that hardworking surgeons should take the time to appreciate everyday life.

“A Tough and Hard Disease”

ACS Spain Governor Antonio Torres, MD, FACS, shares his experience treating COVID-19, and as a patient himself.

Powerful, Unifying Messages of Information and Morale from a New York Surgeon

For two months during the COVID-19 crisis, Craig R. Smith, MD, FACS, chair of the department of surgery at New York-Presbyterian’s Columbia University Irving Medical Center, NY, has written daily updates to faculty and staff describing the health care system’s response to the pandemic. The daily e-mails illustrate the selfless efforts of health care professionals with whom he works on the frontlines and offer poetic inspiration to readers—leading the Wall Street Journal to call Dr. Smith “the pandemic’s most powerful writer.”

Posted on Twitter and shared widely by colleagues, the letters reached audiences beyond Columbia’s hospital, providing readers with evidence-based facts and a unified message of hope infused with wartime metaphors, mountaineering analogies, and quotes from Emily Dickinson, Rudyard Kipling, and other literary figures.

On May 12, Dr. Smith sent his 59th and final daily e-mail to the surgery department, returning to the operating room and what he deemed a “new normal.” In his final dispatch, Dr. Smith noted that at the beginning of the pandemic, “Information was a salad of confusing rumors, rambling e-mails, and pronouncements from multiple sources. I attempted to write a simplifying summary…I sensed that people sharing such universal dislocation needed morale as much as information.”