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JB JS Open Access ; 5(2): e0050, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1033201


On February 8, 2020, Singapore raised its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level to Orange, indicating that coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) was a severe disease with high human transmissibility. Using lessons learned from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, the orthopaedic surgery department at Singapore General Hospital, a tertiary-level referral center, was prepared to handle this pandemic through business-continuity planning. The business that we are referring to is the "business" of orthopaedic surgery, encompassing clinical care, education, research, and administration. There is a lack of literature detailing business-continuity plans of surgical departments during pandemics, with new guidelines being developed. A large proportion of orthopaedic work, such as cases of fracture and infection, cannot be postponed. Even elective surgeries cannot be postponed indefinitely as it could result in detriment to the quality of life of patients. The aim of this article is to detail the business-continuity plans at our institution that allowed the delivery of essential musculoskeletal care through personnel segregation measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Strategies to ensure the provision of timely medical intelligence, the reduction of nonessential ambulatory visits and surgical procedures, ensuring the safety and morale of staff, and continuing education and research efforts were paramount. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, our posture needs to constantly evolve to meet new challenges that may come our way. Our existing business-continuity plan is not perfect and may not be applicable to smaller hospitals. There is conflict between envisioned normalcy, remaining economically viable as an orthopaedic department, and fulfilling training requirements, and educating the next generation of orthopaedic surgeons on the one hand and the need for segregation, workload reduction, virtual education, and social distancing on the other. Orthopaedic surgeons need to strike a balance between business continuity and adopting sustainable precautions against COVID-19. We hope that our experience will aid other orthopaedic surgery departments in adapting to this new norm, protecting their staff and patients, managing staff morale, and allowing the continuation of musculoskeletal care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bone Jt Open ; 1(6): 222-228, 2020 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-940050


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to unprecedented challenges to healthcare systems worldwide. Orthopaedic departments have adopted business continuity models and guidelines for essential and non-essential surgeries to preserve hospital resources as well as protect patients and staff. These guidelines broadly encompass reduction of ambulatory care with a move towards telemedicine, redeployment of orthopaedic surgeons/residents to the frontline battle against COVID-19, continuation of education and research through web-based means, and cancellation of non-essential elective procedures. However, if containment of COVID-19 community spread is achieved, resumption of elective orthopaedic procedures and transition plans to return to normalcy must be considered for orthopaedic departments. The COVID-19 pandemic also presents a moral dilemma to the orthopaedic surgeon considering elective procedures. What is the best treatment for our patients and how does the fear of COVID-19 influence the risk-benefit discussion during a pandemic? Surgeons must deliberate the fine balance between elective surgery for a patient's wellbeing versus risks to the operating team and utilization of precious hospital resources. Attrition of healthcare workers or Orthopaedic surgeons from restarting elective procedures prematurely or in an unsafe manner may render us ill-equipped to handle the second wave of infections. This highlights the need to develop effective screening protocols or preoperative COVID-19 testing before elective procedures in high-risk, elderly individuals with comorbidities. Alternatively, high-risk individuals should be postponed until the risk of nosocomial COVID-19 infection is minimal. In addition, given the higher mortality and perioperative morbidity of patients with COVID-19 undergoing surgery, the decision to operate must be carefully deliberated. As we ramp-up elective services and get "back to business" as orthopaedic surgeons, we have to be constantly mindful to proceed in a cautious and calibrated fashion, delivering the best care, while maintaining utmost vigilance to prevent the resurgence of COVID-19 during this critical transition period. Cite this article: Bone Joint Open 2020;1-6:222-228.

J Orthop Surg Res ; 15(1): 322, 2020 Aug 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-714453


BACKGROUND: World Health Organization declared coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) a global pandemic on 11 March 2020, after the coronavirus claimed 4628 lives worldwide. Mental health challenges such as making impossible decisions and working under extreme pressures are expected to be faced by frontline healthcare workers who are directly involved in the care of COVID-19 patients. However, we question if significant stress levels might also be observed in a subspecialty musculoskeletal outpatient department, where staff are not first-line care providers of COVID-19 patients. We hypothesize that these healthcare workers also face significant psychological strain, and we aim to objectively determine the prevalence using a validated caregiver strain index. METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted in outpatient musculoskeletal clinics in a tertiary hospital in Singapore. We collected basic demographic data and used a 13-question tool adapted from the validated Caregiver Strain Index (CSI) to measure psychological strain in these healthcare workers. Participants were divided into 2 groups depending on the level of strain experienced. RESULTS: A total of 62 healthcare workers volunteered for this study. There were 32 participants (51.6%) who had 7 or more positive responses (group 1) and the remaining 30 participants (48.4%) were allocated to group 2. There were no significant differences between the two groups in terms of demographic data. "Work adjustments" (74.2%), "changes in personal plans" (72.6%), and finding it "confining" (72.6%) garnered the most positive responses in the questionnaire. On the other hand, "financial concerns" garnered the least positive responses (21.0%). CONCLUSION: The protracted duration of the COVID-19 outbreak and its resultant prolonged adjustments can have unintended consequences of wearing down healthcare resources otherwise allocated to chronic and elective conditions. Countries should ensure that measures are put in place to safeguard the mental well-being of our healthcare workers to avoid needing another reactive strategy in this battle against COVID-19.

Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections/psychology , Health Personnel/psychology , Orthopedics/trends , Outpatient Clinics, Hospital/trends , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/psychology , Adult , Aged , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/therapy , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Health Personnel/trends , Humans , Male , Mental Health/trends , Middle Aged , Musculoskeletal Diseases/psychology , Musculoskeletal Diseases/therapy , Occupational Exposure/prevention & control , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/therapy , SARS-CoV-2 , Singapore/epidemiology , Young Adult