WASHINGTON, D.C.—To stand up for the emergency physicians and care teams who—despite serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic—are having their livelihoods threatened, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has issued the following statement:
“While most people are doing their part by staying home, emergency physicians and care teams are risking their lives each day as they combat the greatest public health challenge of our lifetime. Our profession is not known for hyperbole, so believe us when we say the situation is dire. Our friends and colleagues are dying alongside the thousands of patients we have taken an oath to protect.
“Despite the fact that we are fighting a war with insufficient armor, emergency physicians’ commitment remains unshaken.
“Many emergency departments in rural or underserved communities are seeing a decline in patient volume—likely a positive outcome from official recommendations to stay home. But this is one of several economic realities that puts emergency departments that already operate on razor thin margins in a precarious position and forces difficult decisions to remain operational.
“Cutting benefits or reducing shifts in today’s environment is akin to signing a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ order for many emergency departments and the physicians that care for the patients, especially those in rural or underserved areas. Turning off the lights at these vital emergency departments eliminates the best, and sometimes the only, option for care for these communities.
“Emergency physicians are the sentinels of America’s emergency care safety net. Now more than ever we need to rally behind our health care heroes, and that means ensuring they have the resources and support they need as they fight this protracted battle.
“This pandemic will end at some point and this country may look and feel very different when we emerge. It is often said that crisis reveals character. Those on the frontline are risking their lives to do their jobs. In these challenging times, we must not take emergency physicians for granted.”