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COVID-19 Response at HSS

COVID-19 Response at HSS

2020 has left a lasting imprint on HSS's purpose, mission, vision and values

The covid-19 Pandemic has been a defining moment for HSS. Hourly change has become the new normal. But through it all, HSS continues to plan for the future. This experience is bolstering what was already a solid foundation of teamwork, culture, decision-making and leadership for today and tomorrow.

We remain committed to upholding our mission: delivering the highest caliber of care, conducting leading-edge research and educating the next generation of musculoskeletal leaders. The investments we’ve made in our care management enterprise during this crisis will allow us to continue to do what we do—and to do it even better.

What follows is a timeline of events at HSS starting in March 2020, as cases of COVID-19 in New York City began to grow exponentially:
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HSS President and CEO Lou Shapiro, Surgeon-in-Chief Bryan Kelly, MD, MBA, and Chief Nursing Officer Jennifer O’Neill.
March 15, 2020
Limiting nonemergent care

HSS makes the decision to proactively suspend nonemergent care to safeguard patients and staff, effective March 17. Only emergent surgeries or procedures continue to be performed, recognizing the benefit of such interventions outweighing the risks posed by COVID-19.

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Pediatric orthopaedic surgeon Shevaun Doyle, MD, sees a patient virtually.
March 16, 2020
Increasing access to virtual care

To ensure that HSS clinicians can continue to deliver urgent and routine musculoskeletal care to patients during the pandemic, HSS rapidly expands HSS Virtual Care, launching new telehealth technology and getting hundreds of doctors on the platform. Between March 16 and April 3, 186 physicians and 117 rehabilitation therapists begin offering virtual visits; in the three months following, more than 40,000 such visits are completed. Currently, more than 500 clinicians have active telehealth accounts, including residents, fellows, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, other nursing staff, physicians, and rehabilitation specialists. Looking forward, HSS clinicians are anticipating that telehealth will continue to play a large role in follow-up care with established patients as well as a smaller role in expanding access for new patients.

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A COVID-19 patient at HSS during the height of the pandemic.
March 21, 2020
Partnering with the medical community

In response to the surge in patients at hospitals in the New York City area, HSS offers extensive resources to neighboring Weill Cornell Medicine, including staff, supplies, and capacity at our own facilities. HSS transformed into a multispecialty hospital, treating both COVID-positive and negative critical care and medical/surgical patients from Weill Cornell, while continuing to take care of those in need of essential orthopaedic surgery.

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Father David Adiletta and Chaplain Margaret Tuttle prepare thank-yous for HSS employees.
March 25, 2020
Ensuring the well-being of frontline staff

In response to the inordinate stresses inherent in caring for patients during the pandemic, HSS expands health and wellness offerings to all staff, including mental health counseling, peer-to-peer support, employee assistance funds and more. HSS also implements a dedicated multidisciplinary council to offer continued support for staff, to be facilitated by Chief Wellness and Resiliency Officer Steve Forti, appointed in June.

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Anesthesiologist Kethy Jules-Elysee, MD, and physician assistant Kelly Culot at the bedside.
HSS transformed into a multispecialty hospital, treating both COVID-positive and negative…patients
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A virtual class with a member of the HSS Sports Safety Program.
March 20, 2020
Providing access to resources for teachers and students

As schools everywhere shift to virtual learning, the HSS Sports Safety Program turns its Learning Center into a virtual physical education platform to deliver movement literacy classes to school-aged children throughout the nation and around the world.

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Orthopaedic surgeon Andrew Pearle, MD, with a patient.
March 31, 2020
Expanding urgent orthopaedic care

To help those with urgent musculoskeletal issues avoid a trip to a potentially overwhelmed emergency department, HSS expands access to urgent ortho care at several sites in the tristate area. Patients were able to receive immediate care for sprains, strains and severe pain on site from HSS providers.

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Orthopaedic surgeon Seth Jerabek, MD, prepares for a procedure.
April 30, 2020
Setting national standards for resumption of care

As part of our return to new normal, HSS medical leaders filled a void in the field by developing actionable criteria for non-essential surgeries, sharing it with other providers nationwide.

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Nursing staff at HSS are participating in clinical research to combat COVID-19.
May 5, 2020
Participating in nationwide research on preventive treatments

Frontline workers at HSS take part in a nationwide clinical trial investigating whether hydroxychloroquine can effectively prevent COVID-19 in healthy healthcare workers. Known as the Healthcare Worker Exposure Response and Outcomes of Hydroxychloroquine (HERO-HCQ) trial, the study is launched by the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet) and will track responses in an estimated 15,000 participants across the country to see if they test positive for COVID-19 and whether they develop antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease.

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Staffers from across HSS contributed to efforts to help patients with COVID-19.
HSS medical leaders filled a void in the field by developing actionable criteria for non-essential surgeries
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Extensive safety and cleaning procedures took place throughout the pandemic.
June 8, 2020
Resuming elective care

As the peak of the crisis abates and the need for HSS resources diminishes, HSS plans a responsible, meticulous return to non-emergent patient care. This includes a phased return to surgical care, building on the emergent cases that continued to be treated during the pandemic, to include urgent, priority and eventually elective surgeries.

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HSS prepares to welcome patients having elective procedures.

Terminal cleaning of all patient care areas, including intensive disinfection of all patient-care spaces, operating rooms, waiting rooms and other common spaces, prepares the facility for a safe return to care.

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HSS staff took part in demonstrations calling for social justice.
June 12, 2020
Prioritizing diversity

Recognizing the adverse impact of racism and social injustice, a leadership council is formed to greater integrate and advance diversity and inclusion efforts across the organization, with a commitment to addressing health inequities and supporting the diverse tapestry of our employees and the communities we serve. In 2020, HSS was named a Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality for the sixth consecutive year by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization in the US. Prioritizing equitable, supportive care for all patients and ensuring a respectful and welcoming atmosphere for all remains a top priority.

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HSS employees, including President and CEO Lou Shapiro, take a knee.
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The expertise of HSS rheumatologists was invaluable in treating patients with COVID-19.
June 30, 2020
Uncovering new treatments

Researchers at HSS find evidence that an immunosuppressive drug approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis and neonatal-onset multisystem inflammatory disease may allow certain people with COVID-19 to avoid having to go on a ventilator. The drug, anakinra, appears to reduce the effects of systemic inflammation in people with COVID-19 who are in severe respiratory distress. The study is published online first in Arthritis & Rheumatology, and was led by HSS rheumatologist Iris Navarro-Millán, MD.

Researchers at HSS find evidence that an immunosuppressive drug…may allow certain people with COVID-19 to avoid having to go on a ventilator
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HSS trainees with a donation of supplies from alumni.
June 30, 2020
Rethinking Trainee Education

Throughout their training, HSS orthopaedic surgery residents provide care at several New York City hospitals, in addition to HSS. During the pandemic, residents and fellows shifted to provide care in emergency, orthopaedic trauma and intensive care settings across the city, while continuing their training through virtual lectures and simulation-based learning. The residency program published an article in the HSS Journal detailing the guiding principles used in our institutional reorganization, in the hope that it may help other orthopaedic programs responding to similar situations in the future. These included safety of all patients and staff, transparent communication, organized leadership and teamwork.

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Side effects of COVID-19 can affect athletes’ safe return to physical activity.
August 19, 2020
Safely returning to sports for all athletes

Sports medicine physicians at the HSS Sports Medicine Institute develop the first set of guidelines for helping patients return to recreational activity safely after mild to moderate infection with COVID-19. The guidelines provide a framework of considerations and recommendations based on the latest evidence regarding how COVID-19 affects different body systems.

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Experts from specialties across HSS are collaborating on COVID-19 research projects.
September 18, 2020
Contributing vital knowledge

HSS initiated nine COVID-related studies, including research on the use of CDK7 inhibitors to target COVID-19 —associated cytokine storm, the mechanisms of cytokine storm in COVID patients, and the association of immunomodulatory medication use and social determinants of health with COVID-19 infection in systemic rheumatic disease patients in New York City.

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