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ADVOCACY SPOTLIGHT


ASC QC COVID-19 Survey Confirms Continued Safety in ASCs Surgery centers had negligible infection rate during the first months of the pandemic BY SAHELY MUKERJI


As part of its mission to support the collection and reporting of qual- ity data, the ASC Qual- ity Collaboration (ASC


QC) conducted a survey of more than 700 ASCs during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when surgeries were limited to urgent and emergent cases. The survey found that ASCs continued to perform essential outpa- tient surgeries safely during March and April last year with patients facing vir- tually no heightened risk of contract- ing the coronavirus either during or following their procedure. The ASC QC surveyed 709 outpa-


tient surgery centers in eight states: Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jer- sey, New York and Pennsylvania. Three of these states—New York, New Jersey and Louisiana—were experiencing high rates of COVID- 19 infection in the general popula- tion between March 15, 2020, and April 30, 2020. The survey included 84,446 procedures that were per- formed in the ambulatory settings in that six-week time window. Only 16 of those patients tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days after their procedure, an infection rate of just .02 percent. The survey also showed that


only two of the 16 infected patients required hospitalization, primar- ily for respiratory issues, and no patients experienced cardiac issues, blood clotting or kidney failure. “I was surprised that the num- low and, frankly,


ber was lower


than what conventional mathemati- cal modeling might have predicted,” says Stuart Simon, MD, ASCA


Board member and medical director of United Surgical Partners Inter- national, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. “But, if you look at it holis- tically, I am not surprised because ASCs are a bastion of sterility. We have always employed rigorous handwashing, equipment steriliza- tion, rigorous adherence to aseptic protocols and, historically, not only worn masks, but gloves, cap and gown as well. This is really part of the natural ecosystem of our surgi- cal facilities.” This survey data confirms that ASCs can continue to perform essen- tial surgeries without putting patients at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, says Ann Shimek, executive direc- tor of the ASC QC. “Together with


the additional COVID-19 safety measures ASCs have in place today, including heightened preoperative screenings, additional sanitary mea- sures and air filtration protocols, ASCs can maintain a safe, sanitary environment to treat patients, while keeping the health professionals pro- viding their care protected.” (Editor's note: Shimek passed away soon after this article was written.) Lee Anne Blackwell, RN, clini-


cal services support for Surgical Care Affiliates in Birmingham, Alabama, supports eight ASCs that participated in the survey. “We have been sup- porting these ASCs to mitigate the pandemic,” she says. “We have sup- ported implementation of best prac- tices through the guidance from the


ASC FOCUS FEBRUARY 2021 | ascfocus.org 21


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