ACG Presidential Blog

by Dr. Mark B. Pochapin

New York City Experience & Recommendations for COVID-19

Dear Colleagues:

Many of you have been asking how we are handling the situation in New York City (NYC), the current COVID epicenter of the country. For this reason, colleagues from different NYC institutions pooled and published our experiences and recommendations in an AJG article you can read via this link:
https://journals.lww.com/ajg/Documents/COVID_NYC_AJG_Preproof.pdf Gross, et al. “Preparation In The Big Apple: New York City, A New Epicenter of the COVID-19 Pandemic”

Recommendations

We have 5 specific recommendations for everybody who has not yet been hit this COVID storm:

  1. Immediately get your hospital and/or lab to ramp up their ability for COVID testing. This is where we have fallen short in NYC due to our inability to identify and isolate early cases and contacts.
  2. Assume everybody has the potential to harbor the virus even when asymptomatic, and take appropriate safeguards.
  3. Conserve PPE now. Don’t wait for COVID to reach your doorstep.
  4. Begin a strong public outreach and advocacy plan by all medical professionals. Make sure the public understands that this is real, not media hype.
  5. Develop the IT infrastructure to do telemedicine.

Many have asked which procedures we are doing and which we are postponing. For this reason, we provide a chart that describes the procedures classified as elective (postpone), semi-elective (perform) and urgent (perform)

In addition, we also describe the military like strategy being used at some institutions with the reassignment of “waves” of physician reservists, including specialists like gastroenterologists, to the hospital in-patient services with housestaff and APPs in order to help care for the steadily increasing volume of non-ICU COVID patients.

And most disturbing, we provide a graph of hospital beds and ICU beds we have in NYC, and our projected shortfall of 57,000 beds in New York State, according to Gov Cuomo, who has been an outstanding leader during this crisis.

I hope this article helps our colleagues prepare for this COVID storm. Despite what we are facing in NYC, I remain positive. With all the clinical trials coming out, with the excellence of our clinicians and the ingenuity of our researchers and scientists across the country focusing their efforts on COVID-19, I have no doubt we will come up with effective treatment strategies and vaccination.

Let’s all stay safe and continue to learn from each other.

Regards,
Mark Pochapin

President, ACG
Director, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
NYU Langone Health