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SCCM and Its Members Rise to the COVID-19 Challenge

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There is no doubt we are living in a new world. The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging organizations and individuals to react quickly and adapt overnight.

There is no doubt we are living in a new world. The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging organizations and individuals to react quickly and adapt overnight. Since the first reports of a novel coronavirus emerged, the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) delivered need-to-know information to a global audience, providing educational resources, advocating for intensive care unit (ICU) clinicians, and collaborating with organizations, governments and individuals worldwide.

Training the Non-ICU Clinician Workforce: With a robust collection of training materials designed for those not trained in critical care, SCCM quickly assembled vital videos and book chapters from its Fundamental Critical Care Support (FCCS) and Fundamental Disaster Management (FDM) programs and made them immediately and freely available online. With hospitals around the globe clamoring for opportunities to train non-ICU clinicians in preparation for patient surges, the program was immediately embraced, with more than 152,000 accessing it during the first week. The Society anticipated high usage and so, before release, ensured that the site could handle unprecedented traffic. Since its launch in early March, the program has been used by over 500,000 clinicians and is offered in Japanese, Spanish and Portuguese. 

Sounding the Alarm on Staffing and Ventilator Shortages: With the publication of the report, United States Resource Availability for COVID-19, SCCM set out to prepare the U.S. critical care workforce, hospital administrators, government officials, and the public for the crisis that would emerge with a major patient surge. The report warned of a “profound shortage of intensivists and other ICU healthcare workers available to operate mechanical ventilators” and offered a tiered staffing strategy to help hospitals expand critical care services in response to the pandemic. It also included previously unpublished statistics on such resources as ICU bed availability and ventilator supply. Accessed more than 140,000 times, the paper found wide distribution among its intended audiences, including major media outlets such as the NBC Nightly News and The New York Times. This publication placed SCCM at the center of public attention as the pandemic unfolded in the United States. By May, SCCM members had participated in more than 110 media interviews, leading to more than 2,700 stories and reaching an audience of 6.7 billion people. Merriam-Webster added the word “intensivist” to its dictionary.

SCCM also worked with numerous organizations and government agencies in efforts to augment ventilator supplies and provide strategies and guidance for those in the field who faced shortages. SCCM President Lewis J. Kaplan, MD, FACS, FCCP, FCCM, was invited to the White House to provide expertise in this area, and he served on a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) task force to evaluate novel ventilator methodologies and equipment. This resulted in the publication of a document from the COVID-19 Co-Ventilation Task Force, producing guidance for clinicians who may find themselves out of options in an emergency surge.  

Serving as the Voice of Critical Care: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that the voice of critical care professionals caring for patients on the front lines be heard. These clinician heroes are saving lives, risking their own health, and serving in spite of the potential for spreading the infection to their loved ones. SCCM advocated for more and better personal protective equipment, mental health resources, expansion of visas, and direct financial support for clinicians in numerous meetings with U.S. governmental leaders and through letters to the U.S. Congress and Senate, as well as the Trump Administration.

SCCM leaders regularly fielded calls for guidance from the White House, FEMA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other government agencies, positioning SCCM as the leading resource for care of the critically ill COVID-19 patient. The Society continues to partner with these federal entities in seeking complete resolution of the outbreak.    

SCCM has made its position clear in 20 letters sent to Washington in support of a wide range of initiatives to support patients, their families and the clinician members of the ICU team. SCCM provided sign-on support to various organizations, such as the American Medical Association, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Critical Care Societies Collaborative. This show of support included initiatives such as the Heroes Act, which was recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Developing COVID-19 Education for Critical Care Professionals: SCCM provided a first-hand account from China on the emerging novel coronavirus crisis during its Critical Care Congress in Orlando in February 2020, and it has not stopped producing timely and relevant materials. SCCM quickly launched two webcasts series: one was intended to provide expert presentations to cover the most pressing issues of the day, and the other used a question-and-answer format to address in-the-field concerns. To date, SCCM has developed more than 20 complimentary webcasts viewed by upwards of half a million healthcare professionals.  

The Society’s COVID-19 Rapid Resource Center has grown to include more than 200 easily searchable resources. In an environment where information is spreading and changing rapidly, this center provides a reliable and trusted source of information. Materials are vetted and peer reviewed, with new items added regularly and originating from SCCM workgroups as well as members of the critical care community at large.  

During this crisis, SCCM developed new listening tools to ensure that its resources meet the needs of critical care professionals in the moment. Chatter is monitored on the newly launched COVID-19 discussion board, social media channels, LISTSERVs, SCCM Connect spaces, and Q&A sessions. In addition, journal articles, both in production and published, are reviewed. This information is collated, analyzed, and distributed to those leading SCCM’s response efforts to ensure the Society recognizes clinician concerns and is releasing highly relevant materials as they are needed.   

SCCM Leaders at the Forefront: In perhaps one of the best examples of how the COVID-19 pandemic has required healthcare to move at the speed of light, the Surviving Sepsis Campaign (SSC) released a COVID-19 critical care guideline in March. Producing guidelines in a normal climate can take years, but this rapid-development cycle helped put important information into the hands of those who needed guidance and positioned SCCM members, once again, as global leaders in the pandemic.  

Authors of the SSC guidelines, together with SCCM Council members and past presidents, received personal invitations from Anthony Fauci, MD, to serve on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) panel tasked with developing a national guideline. Released in April, the national guideline included major segments of the SSC guideline. 
In addition, the Society’s President Elect Greg S. Martin, MD, MSc, FCCM, is among those leading the NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative in an effort to make millions of accurate and easy-to-use COVID-19 tests available by the end of summer 2020 and making more in time for a possible second wave, which would likely occur in conjunction with influenza season. 

Research Initiatives: Discovery, the Critical Care Research Network, in partnership with Mayo Clinic unveiled the first global COVID-19 registry that tracks ICU and hospital care patterns in near-real-time. The Viral Infection and Respiratory Illness Universal Study (VIRUS) registry will reveal practice variations and provide a rich database for research into effective treatments and care. Its rapid creation and SCCM’s ability to secure grant funding speak to the success of SCCM’s Discovery Network.  

Organizing Donations, Grants and Partnerships: To help hospitals impacted by severe supply and equipment shortages , SCCM worked with other nonprofit organizations and corporations to offer support. For example, SCCM quickly identified New York City Health + Hospitals, and Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center both in South Dakota, as hospital systems with severe needs and partnered with Direct Relief to send ICU medication kits to these systems. The kits included more than 86,000 units of essential pharmaceuticals. Additionally, more than 100 oxygen concentrators were also shipped to these systems to aid in post-acute treatments. 

SCCM also partnered with several companies that generously offered no-cost or significantly discounted rates at various airlines, hotels, car rentals and restaurants to support clinicians.  

Many of the Society’s efforts discussed here would not have been possible without generous funding from organizations like the Schmidt Family Foundation, the Gordon and Betty More Foundation, the CDC Foundation and others who share SCCM’s values. In additon, members of the profession and public donated to support the response effort. For all of this generosity, we are extremely thankful.  

Industry Support: To date, SCCM has received more than $700,000 from industry in support of our COVID-19 response efforts. These funds are being used to provide online educational content, virtual webinars and and other resources for ICU and non-ICU clinicians alike. Thanks to all our industry supporters: 

  • Abbott Nutrition
  • Baxter Nutrition
  • Draeger
  • Edwards Life Sciences
  • Fresenius-Kabi
  • Genetech
  • Masimo
  • Mylan
  • Nestle Health Science
  • Novartis
  • Pfizer
  • Thermo FisherScientific

Looking into the Future: The future is uncertain in the COVID-19 era, but SCCM is steadfast in its mission to improve care of the critically ill and injured. "While we aren’t sure what lies ahead, I am reassured by the way the entirety of SCCM stepped forward to respond to the pandemic" said SCCM CEO David Martin, CAE, chief executive officer and executive vice-president of the Society. "With ICU professionals united across the globe, we will not only save lives during this outbreak, we will be better than we were, with new knowledge, skills, technologies, behaviors, and systems that lead to improved patient outcomes long-after the pandemic subsides."


    January 20

    The head of a Chinese government team says human-to-human transmission has been confirmed in an outbreak of a novel coronavirus, a development that raises the possibility that it could spread more quickly and widely.


    January 21

    SCCM President Heatherlee Bailey, MD, FCCM, activates the SCCM Emergency Response System and sends a message to SCCM members to inform them of this development. A special message is also sent to members in China, expressing SCCM's gratitude for their work and sacrifice.


    February 11

    National Public Radio approaches SCCM seeking subject matter experts on COVID-19, and SCCM Council Member Laura Evans, MD, FCCM, is featured on All Things Considered, reaching more than 14 million listeners.


    Dr. Bailey sends a message to the critical care community alerting them to new resources from the CDC and from SCCM, including a new article from SCCM member Lewis Rubinson, MD, PhD, with information on how to prepare for an outbreak and keep safe. 


    February 12

    As the 49th Critical Care Congress gets underway, SCCM informs members in China that, because they must cancel attendance, they will receive free access to Congress On Demand.


    February 17

    SCCM adds late-breaking COVID-19 sessions to its Congress program, including a first-person narrative from Zhiyong Peng, MD, PhD, who reports from China. Ryan C. Maves, MD, and Laura Evans, MD, MS, FCCM, discuss preparation strategies, and a Spanish language session is presented.


    March 3

    SCCM organizes an internal COVID-19 response team and announces travel restrictions for staff and members of the Creative Community.


    The FDM Committee curates resources for free access and starts to develop new checklists and resources specific to COVID-19.


    SCCM releases the first of two rapid-cycle surveys to better understand the needs and concerns of those on the front lines.


    March 11

    SCCM distributes the ICU Preparedness Checklist and the ebook, Preparing Your ICU For Disaster Response, and launches the online education program, Critical Care for the Non-ICU Professional.


    March 13

    The report, "United States Resource Availability for COVID-19" is published online and announced in a press release. Lead author Neil A. Halpern, MD, MCCM, using previously unpublished critical care statistics, puts the pandemic into context with vital insight into the shortage of ventilators and healthcare staff.


    March 18

    SCCM President Lewis Kaplan, MD, FACS, FCCP, FCCM, briefs President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and the Coronavirus Task Force on the state of COVID-19 patient care.


    SCCM releases Critical Care for the Non-ICU Clinician, a program preparing healthcare professionals who may be deployed to over-run hospitals and ICUs. Thousands immediately take advantage of the free training. In the first week, more than 127,000 sought training on the fundamentals of patient assessment, airway management, mechanical ventilation, and other critical care skills.


    March 20

    Surviving Sepsis Campaign Surviving Sepsis Campaign: Guidelines on the Management of Critically Ill Adults with COVID-19 is released. More than 17,000 downloads of the rapid-cycle guidelines occur in the first week.


    SCCM provides education on the COVID-19 response with the webcast, "Scaled Pandemic Preparedness: From Large Medical Center to Community Hospital – What Do You Need To Do?" Meanwhile, the SCCM Chinese office holds a panel discussion with leaders from SCCM and the Chinese Society of Critical Care Medicine, reaching capacity with more than 9,500 attendees.


    March 20

    SCCM's website hits an all-time record of nearly 66,000 visitors.


    March 26

    SCCM publishes a collection of resources on mechanical ventilation strategies after working with the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and several other organizations. These resources offer guidance on how to augment ventilator supply in an emergency and what do when options are exhausted. The collection includes a paper from FEMA’s COVID-19 Co-Ventilation Task Force, for which Dr. Kaplan is a member.


    March 27

    The first webcast of a new series is held to collect questions from the field and provide real-time answers from experts. More than 500 attend, and the series goes on to educate more than 110,000.


    The COVID-19 Discussion Group is launched to create a network for clinicians to share information and pose questions. The group goes on to receive more than 10,000 visitors, including thousands reviewing early discussions of anticoagulation and corticosteroids.


    April 1

    Results from the first of a series of rapid-cycle surveys spearheaded by SCCM are released. Two-thirds of respondents report that their facilities are not well-prepared for COVID-19. Concerns range from shortages of supplies and staff to a lack of personal protective equipment.


    April 10

    Continuing to work with local governments to enlist volunteers, SCCM announces numerous partner discount programs to help make life easier for those on the front lines. Among the benefits is a partnership with Hilton Hotels to offer free rooms for SCCM members. Days later, an SCCM member, who had been self-isolating in her car to protect her immunocompromised roommate, writes a letter of thanks to SCCM and the hotel chain.


    April 13

    SCCM issues a call for volunteers on behalf of New York. Calls for volunteers in New Jersey and Illinois follow. SCCM processes more than 240 volunteer applications within 48 hours before it turns over the application processing to the state governments.


    April 15

    SCCM's COVID-19 Rapid Resource Center is launched as a trusted source for peer-reviewed, vetted critical care-specific education.


    April 17

    Dr. Kaplan conveys a message to the membership with major updates on the SCCM response effort and available resources.


    April 20

    The Washington Post publishes an editorial from Dr. Kaplan on the need for a national hospital data dashboard.


    April 21

    Authors of the Surviving Sepsis Campaign guidelines and leaders from SCCM are invited by Dr. Anthony Fauci to collaborate on a COVID-19 guideline from the National Institutes of Health.

    Coopersmith Craig Dzierba Amy Evans Laura Levy Mitchell Martin Greg


    April 23

    Partnering with Direct Relief, SCCM helps donate ICU kits to hospitals in New York and South Dakota. South Dakota was a hotspot due to outbreaks at several meat-packing plants. The kits include more than 86,000 units of essential pharmaceuticals, the hospitals also receive more than 100 oxygen concentrators.


    April 24

    After joining with the American College of Chest Physicians to reconstitute the Task Force for Mass Critical Care, SCCM endorses a new implementation guide that addresses regional resource allocation. SCCM also releases its own Crisis Standard of Care Recommendations for Triaging Critical Resources During the COVID-19 Pandemic.


    April 30

    SCCM President Elect Greg Martin, MD, MSc, FCCM, is among those tapped to lead a national effort to supercharge the innovation, development, and commercialization of COVID-19 testing as part of the NIH Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) Initiative. Its goal is to make millions of accurate and easy-to-use tests available by fall 2020.


    May 4

    SCCM member Gregory Margolin, DO, FCCP, FCCM, who has been sharing with the Society his daily video diaries chronicling his experience as a volunteer in New York, is featured on the TODAY show. With nearly 5 million viewers, this high-profile, public recognition of critical care professionals kicks off National Critical Care Awareness and Recognition Month.


    May 7

    Spanish and Japanese materials are added to the Critical Care for the Non-ICU Clinician training.


    May 8

    Discovery, the Critical Care Research Network SCCM officially launches the Discovery VIRUS COVID-19 Registry, a joint project with the Mayo Clinic with funding from the Betty and Gordon Moore Foundation. The registry had been operating for weeks in advance of the official announcement. The project came together in record time after SCCM connected key experts via social media. The registry currently has more than 500 participating sites.


Posted: 5/27/2020 | 0 comments

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