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

Media Advisory from the American College of Surgeons

For Immediate Release


Sally Garneski
Dan Hamilton

Two new resources available on expanding capabilities to care for critically ill patients during COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (April 8, 2020): The likelihood of expanding health care facilities to accommodate critically ill patients during the COVID-19 pandemic makes it imperative for our health care system to make preparations in advance. Efforts are already underway in large metro areas such as New York City and Chicago, where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has worked to convert convention centers into alternate health care facilities. If you’re planning to address this issue in your news coverage, two recent documents have been released on how military-civilian partnerships can help provide needed care during this time.

On April 6, JAMA Surgery published an article, “How to Partner With the Military in Responding to Pandemics—A Blueprint for Success.” Authors of the article recommend criteria for civilian trauma teams to incorporate military medical personnel into their trauma centers. Military-civilian collaboration can help provide the ability for temporary trauma facilities to succeed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The greatest strength of the U.S. Military’s Medical Corps is in treating patients who are injured. This advantage has been demonstrated on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan with the lowest fatality rate ever recorded during war. During a pandemic, military assets are best suited to care for trauma victims and could be utilized to offload large civilian trauma centers, allowing those centers to use their beds, equipment and personnel to care for infected patients,” said M. Margaret (Peggy) Knudson, MD, FACS, Medical Director of the Military Health System Strategic Partnership American College of Surgeons. “Teams consisting of both civilian and military personnel are needed so that the care of military beneficiaries who fall victim to the pandemic and who seek care at Military Treatment Facilities will not be negatively impacted.”

To provide guidance on creating military-civilian partnerships, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) recently released The Blue Book: Military-Civilian Partnerships for Trauma Training, Sustainment, and Readiness. As hospitals prepare for a surge of COVID-19 patients, medical supplies and health care workers may be in short supply. Creative solutions are necessary to increase the capacity of the civilian hospital infrastructure. The Blue Book contains information for developing and sustaining military-civilian partnerships such as obtaining institutional commitment, governance and administration, human resources, physical resources, education, and evaluation.

“By incorporating lessons from the military into our nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re ensuring civilian medical centers have the ability to react quickly and effectively to expand their capacity and provide quality care,” said ACS Executive Director David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS.

Military-civilian partnerships not only help civilian hospitals more effectively respond to a crisis, they help military surgeons maintain surgical knowledge, skills, and abilities when they aren’t deployed. Military surgeons can also provide insights from the battlefield to enhance civilian trauma care.

“The expansion of military-civilian partnerships supports not only the readiness mission but also enhances the civilian trauma system, most notably in areas of the country where access to trauma care is limited,” Dr. Knudson said. “These partnerships will be supported by the recently passed legislation The Pandemic All- Hazards Preparation and Innovation Act. There is no better time to accelerate this process than in response to the current pandemic.”

The Blue Book is available on the ACS website.

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About the American College of Surgeons
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 82,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit