COVID-19: Staff and Clinical Practice Sustainability During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge with few precedents. Combating the spread of a potentially deadly new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, requires extraordinary action. The principle strategy we currently have to flatten the infection curve and eventually stop the transmission of this highly contagious virus is "risk mitigation". Decreasing risk means enhanced hygiene (e.g. rigorous handwashing), minimizing travel (to prevent potentially infected individuals carrying the virus far), social distancing (minimizing the number of people we are in contact with another at any one time), a high degree of vigilance (e.g. be willing and ready to self-quarantine early, even before symptoms appear), and preserving critically needed health resources to attend to those who become seriously ill with the virus (e.g. personal protective equipment [PPE] and ventilators).

While these measures will save lives, they have also led to widespread inconvenience, privations, and challenges. Many, many healthcare offices have ceased operations, including dentists, surgeons, and many other procedure-oriented specialties, including reproductive care and infertility practices. This has occurred not just because society as a whole needs to do everything possible to ensure patient safety, but also because healthcare providers need to help enforce social distancing, and conserve, to the greatest extent possible, very needed resources – even resources that we once thought plentiful.

The reproductive and infertility community, patients and providers, the very community that the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) represents and advocates for, has also been impacted by this pandemic. The recent recommendations from the ASRM COVID-19 Task Force are consistent with current US public health and responsible global citizenship standards, and are in line with those of other medical organizations, including the United Kingdom’s Human Embryology and Fertilization Authority.

Recognizing the impact of this pandemic on our clinics and programs in reproductive medicine, ASRM staff in Washington DC have already been in touch with policy makers as they design programs for government relief and support. We also are working with the AMA and others to make sure our elected officials understand the needs of our medical practices as they draft legislation.

If you have specific suggestions for programs the federal or state governments should be including please bring them to the attention of myself or Sean Tipton, ASRM’s Chief Advocacy and Policy Officer at stipton@asrm.org.

Together, we, as an organization, as a community, and as global citizens, can beat this disease, better prepare for the next pandemic, and ensure the safety and care of all our patients.

ASRM Announcements contain information of interest to members about ASRM, NIH, FDA, or CDC matters.

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