Healthcare leaders: No reason for makeshift COVID-19 hospitals when ASCs sit vacant

The nation's 5,800-plus ASCs — many of which have temporarily closed or limited services — could serve as treatment centers to slow the spread of COVID-19, several healthcare leaders say.

Surgical Management Professionals President and CEO Mike Lipomi is among them. Mr. Lipomi shared the following thought on LinkedIn:

"I keep hearing that hospitals don't have supplies, capacity or ventilators for increase [sic] patients due to the virus. At the same time surgery centers are being closed across the country. Surgery centers with supplies, staff, empty gurneys and anesthesia machines to use as vents. Why build a temporary hospital when the resources of and ASC are available. [sic] Who is thinking about this?"

Mr. Lipomi is not alone in thinking ASCs could serve as a valuable resource during the COVID-19 pandemic. Roderick Carbonell, BSN, RN, took a similar stance, saying the novel coronavirus outbreak has revealed the value of surgery centers. "Their capabilities are wholly underutilized," he said on LinkedIn.

Neurosurgeon Ramsis Ghaly, MD, called on President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and governors and mayors across the U.S. to use ASCs as COVID-19 treatment centers.

Surgery centers can be converted and designated to triage and treat COVID-19 patients, and their scattered locations are ideal for this kind of situation, Dr. Ghaly said.

Utilizing ASCs for COVID-19 treatment could decrease the burden on major hospitals, minimize inter-hospital disease transmission, and ensure effective staffing and management, according to Dr. Ghaly. He also noted that ASCs have experience successfully managing specific patient groups, and they need few additional supplies, other than more ventilators and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machines.

Moreover, ASCs are already built and staffed, unlike makeshift hospitals.

"Centers are already staffed and ready to go and isolated with parking lots. No need to start from scratch," Dr. Ghaly wrote on LinkedIn.

More articles on surgery centers:
21 ASCs with coronavirus restrictions or closures
How gastroenterology practices are responding to COVID-19
How COVID-19 has affected Tenet, HCA Healthcare and Surgery Partners' shares


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