Donning a new approach to the practice of gastroenterology: perspectives from the COVID-19 pandemic epicenter.
The COVID-19 pandemic is seemingly peaking now in New York City and has triggered significant changes to the standard management of gastrointestinal diseases. Priorities such as minimizing viral transmission, preserving (personal protective equipment) PPE, and freeing hospital beds have driven unconventional approaches to managing GI patients. Conversion of endoscopy units to COVID units and redeployment of gastroenterology (GI) fellows and faculty has profoundly changed the profile of most GI services. Meanwhile, consult and procedural volumes have been drastically reduced. In this review we share our collective experiences, how we have changed our practice of medicine, in response to the COVID surge. While we will review our management of specific consults and conditions, the overarching theme focuses primarily on non-invasive measures and maximizing medical therapies. Endoscopic procedures have been reserved for those timely interventions that are most likely to be therapeutic. The role of multidisciplinary discussion, while always important, has now become critical. And the support of our faculty and trainees remains essential. Local leadership can encourage well-being by frequent team check-ins and foster trainee development through remote learning. Advancing a clear vision and a transparent process for how to organize and triage care in the recovery phase will allow for a smooth transition to our “new normal.”