COVID-19: Important Updates for GI Practices

From ACG Legislative and Public Policy Council Chair, Whitfield L. Knapple, MD, FACG

In an effort to keep ACG members up-to-date on important updates in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, please find below the latest information tailored for GI practices.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed on Thursday, May 28th, a bill that would revise the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act makes changes to the PPP by extending the period for using loans to 24 weeks (rather than 8 weeks). It also would let borrowers spend just 60% (rather than 75%) of their loan proceeds on paying workers and still be eligible for loan forgiveness. The bill eliminates the 2-year loan repayment restrictions for future borrowers, allows payroll tax deferment for PPP recipients, and extends the June 30 rehiring deadline. The U.S. Senate has yet to take up the measure. ACG will update members as this bill and other COVID-19 relief packages move through Congress.

Need Help? Click here for ACG’s guidance on the PPP.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a “Clinician On-Call Center” for ACG members and healthcare professionals. This 24-hour hotline has trained CDC clinicians standing by to answer COVID-19 questions from healthcare personnel on a wide range of topics, such as diagnostic challenges, clinical management, and infection prevention and control. To reach this service, call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) and ask for the Clinician On-Call Center.

The CDC also offers a “COVID-19 Surge Tool.” This is a spreadsheet-based tool that hospital administrators and public health officials can use to estimate the surge in demand for hospital-based services during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the CDC, ACG members can produce estimates of the number of COVID-19 patients that need to be hospitalized, the number requiring ICU care, and the number requiring ventilator support. You can then compare those estimates with hospital capacity, using either existing capacity or estimates of expanded capacity.

ACG will continue to update members each week on important COVID-19 policy changes.

Register for New ACG Webinar - COVID-19: Resuming Endoscopy: Unanswered Questions and Ongoing Controversies

Join Dr. Mark Pochapin, Dr. Costas Kefalas, Dr. Neil Stollman, and the ACG Endoscopy Resumption Task Force as they present "COVID-19: Resuming Endoscopy: Unanswered Questions and Ongoing Controversies." This talk will identify current guidance and best practices for the difficult issues of reopening, including personal and environmental safety. Register for this important session next Monday, June 1, 2020 from 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm Eastern Daylight Time.

New FDA Guidance: Use the Correct Cycle When Decontaminating Respirators With STERRAD Sterilization Systems

From ACG FDA Related Matters Committee Chair Stephen Hanauer, MD, FACG

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a reminder to reprocessing staff in health care facilities to use the correct decontamination cycle associated with certain models of the Advanced Sterilization Products (ASP) STERRAD Sterilization Systems and to only decontaminate compatible N95 or N95-equivalent respirators for reuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only the combination of certain models listed in the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) are authorized for the decontamination of compatible N95 respirators. These include:

ASP STERRAD Sterilization System STERRAD Decontamination Cycle
STERRAD 100NX Express

The FDA recommends that reprocessing staff in health care facilities:

  • Recognize that new N95 and N95-equivalent respirators, when available, are always the first choice for health care personnel.
  • Confirm the N95 or N95-equivalent respirators you are decontaminating do not contain cellulose (i.e., paper-based materials). Respirators that contain cellulose are incompatible with vaporized hydrogen peroxide decontamination.
  • Use only the Express cycle for the STERRAD 100NX System. Do not use other cycles available on the STERRAD 100NX System to decontaminate compatible N95 respirators.
  • If your system currently does not have the Express cycle, consider the software upgrade available from the manufacturer to add this cycle to the STERRAD 100NX System at your facility.
  • Use only the 100S cycle to decontaminate compatible N95 respirators with the STERRAD 100S System.
  • Use only the Standard cycle to decontaminate compatible N95 respirators with the STERRAD NX System.
  • Review the Fact Sheet and Instructions associated with the Emergency Use Authorization:

ACG Guidance on Safely Reopening Your Endoscopy Center: Find the Latest Information on Your State

From Chair and Vice Chair of the ACG Board of Governors, Neil H. Stollman, MD, FACG and Patrick E. Young, MD, FACG

“Federal guidance is extensive, but local regulations and conditions dominate”

The ACG Guidance on Safely Reopening Your Endoscopy Center recognizes that not all areas of the country are the same, and each region/state is dealing with various levels of COVID-19 prevalence, ability to test patients/staff, as well as the ability to access personal protective equipment. The ACG Governors continue to monitor state executive orders on reopening our practices and expanding procedures across the U.S. Many ACG members have recently received communications from your ACG Governor, providing the latest information on your state. The ACG Board of Governors will continue to monitor these developments on your behalf and keep you updated.

Interested in learning more on the latest information on your state? The Council of State Governments website is tracking information on your state (updated regularly). The Washington Post also has a state reopening tracker.

Remember to Contact Your ACG Governor

Remember to contact your ACG Governor on important state and local issues impacting you and your practice.

The current pandemic has created a lot more questions than answers, as states and localities deal with COVID-19 or are beginning to reopen medical practices. The ACG Board of Governors is monitoring this situation and is here to help you.

The Board of Governors is one of the most unique aspects of the American College of Gastroenterology. Governors are ACG Fellows that are elected from the membership of a particular state or region. There are currently 77 Governors across seven different regions in the U.S. and abroad. The Board of Governors acts as a two-way conduit between College leadership and the membership at-large. This helps the College make certain it is meeting the evolving needs of the membership.