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

Video Interviews with Our Surgical Colleagues

Steven D. Wexner, MD, FACS, PhD(Hon), FRCS, FRCS(Ed)ACS Regent Steven Wexner, MD, PhD (Hon), FACS, FRCS (Eng), FRCS (ED), FRCSI (Hon), Hon FRCS (Glasg), Director, Digestive Disease Center at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston is conducting interviews with our surgeon colleagues around the world. In these interviews, surgeons share their unique experiences and perspectives on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patrick V. Bailey, MD, MLS, FACS, is Medical Director, ACS Advocacy, and shares many important considerations about financial ramifications and other impacts of COVID-19.

Wael K. Barsoum, MD, CEO and President, Cleveland Clinic Florida, who describes the measures taken to optimize patient and health care provider safety during preparation for the COVID-19 surge and subsequently when re-starting elective services. His unique insights and leadership decisions earned him recognition from the Governor of Florida and have been nationally and internationally shared as best practices.

Badma Bashankaev, MD, FACS, FASCRS, Health Advisor to the Head of the Republic of Kalmykia, Russia, and chief of surgery, Global Medical System Clinics and Hospitals, discusses how COVID-19 is affecting Russia, where new case diagnoses appear to have started leveling out after a sharp increase in May. Focusing primarily on Moscow, Dr. Bashankaev speaks about how hospitals prepared for the delayed patient surge, the state of Russia’s “stay-at-home” order, the role of social media in informing patients and surgeons about COVID developments across the world’s largest country, the availability of testing, and more.

Aneel Bhangu, MBChB, FRCS, PhD, Senior Lecturer and Clinician Scientist in Global Surgery and Honorary Consultant Colorectal and General Surgeon, University Hospital Birmingham, UK, is one of the creators of the global COVID-19 surgery registry study. Dr. Bhangu presents some of the critically important findings on the first 500 patients with COVID-19 who underwent surgery, mostly in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and the U.S.

Jo Buyske, MD, FACS, DABS, is President and CEO, American Board of Surgery, and Adjunct Professor of Surgery, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Buyske reviewed many changes that were rapidly undertaken by the American Board of Surgery (ABS) and the other associated boards, including vascular and pediatric surgery. Many facets of ABS activity are impacted due to COVID-19, including time and case volume requirements for applicants for the qualifying examination, the methods of administration of the various exams, timelines for examination completion and the methods of conducting ABS business.

Robert K. Cleary, MD, FACS, FASCRS, who shares an emotional recounting of his own battle as a patient hospitalized in the intensive care unit due to a COVID-19 infection.

Delia Cortes-Guiral, MD, PhD, ECPSO, is General and Digestive Surgeon specialized in Peritoneal Surface Surgical Oncology and Colo-rectal Cancer Consultant at King Khalid Hospital, Saudi Arabia, and at Hospital Universitario Principe de Asturias, Madrid. Dr. Cortes-Guiral offers her unique perspective on working as a colorectal surgeon and surgical oncologist in both Saudi Arabia and in Spain.

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.

Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, OM, KBE, PC, FRS, FACS(Hon), FREng(Hon), FMedSci, has been a practicing colorectal surgeon as well as former Parliamentary Undersecretary of Health. He has been a global leader in surgery including minimally invasive and robotic surgery for several decades. He is currently the Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College in London, England. Honorary ACS Fellow Professor the Lord Darzi gives his unparalleled insights into the COVID-19 situation in the U.K.

Conor P. Delaney, MD, MCh, PhD, FACS, FRCSI, FASCRS, FRCSI (Hon), is Chair, Digestive Disease and Surgery Institute at Cleveland Clinic, the Victor W. Fazio, MD, Endowed Chair in Colorectal Surgery, and Professor of Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Lerner School of Medicine. Dr. Delaney has been a leader in the decision making and execution of the strategy of COVID-19 management. He shares his extensive knowledge in optimizing safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paula Ferrada, MD, FACS, is Chair, ACS Young Fellows Association; director, surgical critical care fellowship program; professor of surgery, department of surgery, division of acute care surgical services; and medical director, surgical and trauma intensive care unit, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond. Dr. Ferrada, on behalf of young surgeons, offers her valuable insights on treating COVID-19 patients as well as her experience as a trauma surgeon.

Abe Fingerhut, MD, FACS(Hon), FRCPS(G), FRCS(Ed)(Hon), FASCRS(Hon), is a consultant for Ruijin Hospital, Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China, and Section for Surgical Research, Medical University of Graz, Austria; and Co-Editor-in-Chief, Annals of Laparoscopic and Endoscopic Surgery (ALES). Professor Fingerhut details his two recent Annals of Surgery manuscripts on minimally invasive surgery in the COVID-19 era. Additionally, he outlines methods of optimizing both patient and provider safety.

Julie Ann Freischlag, MD, FACS, FRCSEd(Hon), DFSVS, is Past-Chair of the American College of Surgeons Board of Regents; Chief Executive Officer of Wake Forest Baptist Health; and Dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC. Dr. Freischlag reviews the challenges COVID-19 presents for both a major multi-site hospital system and a medical school.

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.

Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA, FACS, is Director, Chair, and Surgeon-in-Chief at Johns Hopkins Medicine, and President of the Society of Surgical Chairs. Dr. Higgins speaks about his experience with COVID-19.

Art Hiranyakas, MD, PhD, FACS, FASCRS, FRCST, FSCRST(Hon), FRCFPT, FICS, is chief of the Colorectal Disease Institute at Bangkok Hospital Phuket, Thailand, and Secretary General of the Thailand Chapter of the ACS. Professor Hiranyakas discusses how Thailand’s government and local hospitals reacted to the once-nascent COVID-19 pandemic to keep the disease in check. As a popular tourism destination for Chinese residents, Thailand was affected early on by COVID-19, but a proactive response has helped to keep infections from the exponential increase that has affected much of the world.

David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, is Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons

Jakob Izbicki, MD, PhD, FACS, FRCSEd(Hon), is Professor of Surgery and Chairman, Department of General Visceral and Thoracic Surgery, and Surgeon-in-Chief, University of Hamburg, Germany

Prof. Charles H. Knowles, MBBChir, PhD, FRCS, FRCS (Gen Surg), is Professor of Surgery, Barts Health NHS Trust and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London; Director, National Bowel Research Centre; and Deputy Director of Research, The Blizard Institute, UK

Mousa Khoursheed, BMBCH, FRCS, FACS, FASMBS, is Professor of Surgery, Department of Surgery, Kuwait University, Kuwait City. Dr. Khoursheed is from Kuwait, which implemented physical distancing, travel and group meeting prohibitions, and other measures very early to limit the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Khoursheed offers the perspective of the government and hospital-level responses to COVID-19 in Kuwait.

Julio Mayol, MD, PhD, is Chief Medical and Innovation Officer and Professor of Surgery, Hospital Clinico San Carlos, Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Madrid, Spain. Dr. Mayol has been the spokesperson for surgery for the Madrid hospitals to SkyNews and to many other media outlets. He offers his perspective on the preparation and execution of COVID-19 strategy.

Fabrizio Michelassi, MD, FACS, is an ACS Regent; Lewis Atterbury Stimson Professor and chairman, department of surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College; and surgeon-in-chief, New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, NY. In this interview Dr. Michelassi discusses his experience practicing and leading in New York City, the world’s largest COVID-19 hotspot. He speaks of his facility’s preparations to create capacity to treat the once rapidly growing number of COVID-19 patients by converting hospital beds to intensive care unit beds, redistributing physicians to provide COVID-19-specific treatment, creating a committee to protect surgeons and staff in operating rooms, securing sufficient PPE, and more.

Professor Neil Mortensen, MB, ChB, MA, MD, FRCS Eng Hon FRCS (Glasg), FRCSI (Hon), Hon FRCS (Ed), Hon FACS, is President-Elect of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and Emeritus Chair of Colorectal Surgery at Oxford University in the U.K. Professor Mortensen has been working with the other three Royal Colleges as well as with many specialty surgery societies in the U.K. and Ireland to develop guidelines for surgical response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Venky Munikrishnan, MD, MRCS, FRCS, leads the Colorectal Surgery Program at Apollo Hospitals in Chennai, India. He shares with Dr. Wexner the problems and potential solutions of managing COVID-19 in India.

Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS, Medical Director, ACS Cancer Programs, discusses the response of the ACS Cancer Programs to the COVID-19 pandemic, including educational resources, guidelines to patient care, and how the accreditation process for the Cancer Programs (Commission on Cancer, National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer) are affected.

Ronan O’Connell, MB, BCh, BAO, MD, FRCSI, FRCSP Glas(Hon), FRCS Edin(Hon), FRCS Eng(Hon), FASA(Hon), FCSHK(Hon), is vice-president of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and president-elect of the European Surgical Association. Dr. O'Connell discusses surgical training in Ireland, how the RCSI is working to ensure that students complete their education, and integrating students into patient care as COVID-19 continues and eventually wanes. Dr. O’Connell also speaks on Ireland’s initial governmental response to COVID-19 and the new challenge in resuming surgery services.

Christopher A. Ohl, MD, FIDSA, FACP, Professor of Medicine, Section on Infectious Diseases, Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr. Ohl has spent several decades building expertise in the management of newly emerging infectious diseases and pandemics. He reviewed significant epidemiology and therapy of essential importance to every surgeon.

Frank Opelka, MD, FACS, Medical Director, ACS Quality and Health Policy, describes legislative and other considerations related to COVID-19.

Melissa S. Pessin, MD, PhD, an expert in serology, to explain the role and value of serologic antibody testing of COVID-19. Dr. Pessin is Chair of Laboratory Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Gary W. Procop, MD, MS, Director, Molecular Microbiology, Mycology, Parasitology, and Virology Laboratories, Cleveland Clinic, is a renowned virologist who shares his expertise on the role of COVID-19 virus testing as well as the sensitivities and specificities of the different testing modalities.

Sameer Siddiqui, MD, FACS, Associate Professor of Surgery, Division Chief of Urology, Interim Chair, Department of Surgery, St. Louis University, MO, discusses his work in creating the surgical case triage guidelines for COVID-19. These guidelines were first featured on the ACS website on March 17, after which they rapidly became widely adopted.

Antonino Spinelli, MD, PhD, FASCRS, Chief of the Division of Colorectal Surgery at Humanitas University Hospital in central Milan, Italy has been continuously caring for COVID-19 patients for the entire month of March.

Steven C. Stain, MD, FACS, is an ACS Regent and the Henry and Sally Schaffer Chair and Professor, Department of Surgery, Albany Medical Center, Albany, NY. Dr. Wexner talks with Dr. Stain about the ACS COVID-19 Registry. Dr. Stain has been an active leader in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®) since the inception of the program. He describes the importance of the new registry, emphasizing that hospital participation in ACS NSQIP is not a prerequisite to entering data into the ACS COVID-19 Registry.

Beth H. Sutton, MD, FACS, is Chair of the ACS Board of Regents and a surgeon in private practice in Wichita Falls, TX. In this interview Dr. Sutton discusses her experience responding to COVID-19 outside of the widely discussed academic and urban medical centers. Though her hospital was fortunate not to be overburdened by COVID-19 patients, she speaks about the facility’s plans to ensure it had sufficient personnel and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as the challenges of telehealth in a more rural location. She also discusses guiding the Board of Regents during an unprecedented period in medical history, the College’s advocacy to ensure the financial viability of surgical practices, and a renewed ACS communications strategy.

Gary L. Timmerman, MD, FACS attending surgeon, Sanford Surgical Associates; professor and chair, department of surgery, Sanford School of Medicine, University of South Dakota, Sioux Falls, SD; and ACS Regent, discusses his hospital’s and South Dakota’s response to COVID-19, particularly in light of the large spike in case numbers that occurred in the meatpacking worker population in April. Though South Dakota did not declare a formal stay-at-home order, public information campaigns, local isolation centers, and other initiatives helped to keep the number of case infections low, even with the unexpected initial surge. In addition, Dr. Timmerman discusses the state of surgery and his practice in South Dakota, as well as the realities of geographic disparities in access to care in the state.

Patricia L. Turner, MD, FACS Director, Division of Member Services, American College of Surgeons, discusses the critically important issue of surgeon wellness during this pandemic. Her expert advice and sage counsel is applicable at all times and not just during the current crisis.

John J. Vargo, MD, MPH, AGAF, FACG, FACP, FASGE, is Director, Endoscopic Operations; Director, Endoscopic Innovation and Research; Head, Section of Advanced Endoscopy; Chairman Emeritus, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Digestive Disease and Surgery Institute, Cleveland Clinic; and President, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE). Dr. Vargo shares his insights regarding the new ASGE guidelines to restarting endoscopy in an interview with Dr. Wexner. He details issues including COVID-19 testing, personal protective equipment, scheduling, cleaning, and office-based flexible sigmoidoscopy and rigid proctoscopy. Dr. Vargo's insights also are relevant for all surgeons who perform endoscopy.

Andrew R. Watson, MD, MLitt, FACS, FATA, a colorectal surgeon and past-president of the American Telemedicine Association, who explains why he has been a staunch supporter and practitioner of telemedicine and shares his logic and practical advice for implementation and continuation of telemedicine during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.