As COVID-19 began spreading across the U.S. in late February and early March, several physicians from Inova Heart and Vascular Institute (IHVI) were at the forefront of developing guidance that is now in use nationwide to direct cardiac care.

“Our team’s dedication to assuring that cardiovascular patients receive timely and high quality care in a safe environment was readily apparent as the impact of the pandemic created major disruptions and uncertainty nationwide,” said Christopher O’Connor, MD, President of IHVI. “We helped to create a framework for hospitals nationwide to move forward in providing vital cardiac services.”

Inova Heart and Vascular Institute

IHVI interventional cardiologists Wayne Batchelor, MD, MHS and Matthew Sherwood, MD, MHS were two of 15 authors who developed a joint American College of Cardiology (ACC) and Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) expert consensus document on “Triage Considerations for Patients Referred for Structural Heart Disease Intervention During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.” The document was published in JACC: Interventions and in the SCAI journal, Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions. In addition, Dr. Batchelor was  featured as one of 4 expert panelists discussing racial disparities brought on by the recent COVID-19 pandemic on a Cardiovascular Revascularization Technologies’ (CRT) webcast (https://www.crtonline.org/video-detail/covid-19-racial-disparities-with-drs-batchelor-col) and Dr. Sherwood was one of 11 authors of a joint ACC Interventional Council/SCAI guidance document that discussed issues facing catheterization laboratory personnel and how practices should be modified during the pandemic

Both physicians serve in leadership roles at IHVI. Dr. Batchelor is the Director of Interventional Cardiology and Interventional Cardiology Research and Dr. Sherwood is Co-Director of the Structural Heart Disease Program.

 “The process for developing the documents was accelerated due to the urgent need to provide guidance for healthcare providers to assure that patients requiring care were prioritized appropriately and treated safely while conserving the hospital resources required to treat COVID patients. A framework for making safe and expeditious triage and treatment decisions was particularly critical in the early days leading up to the surge in COVID patients,” Dr. O’Connor said.

 Work on the two documents began in late February. They then underwent rapid peer review before being released for publication in March. The ACC and SCAI leadership called upon the expertise of a select group of nationally known interventional cardiologists with representation from differing geographic regions, hospital environments and differing rates of virus spread. Information and international experience from Italy and other countries also helped inform the content.  As knowledge and experience has evolved in dealing with COVID-19, a process is in place for continued review of these initial recommendations within the ACC’s Interventional Leadership Council, of which Dr. Batchelor, Dr. Sherwood and Dr. Alexander Truesdell are all members. Dr. Truesdell is Co-Director of the Cardiogenic Shock Service at IHVI. Revised versions of these documents are expected to be released in the Fall of 2020.

Dr. O’Connor was a senior author and Mitchell Psotka, MD, PhD, a co-author of a statement by the Heart Failure Collaboratory published in JACC: Heart Failure on conducting heart failure clinical trials in the era of COVID-19. The Heart Failure Collaboratory is an academic consortium of healthcare professionals, industry, government representatives, patients and care partners committed to improving heart failure care. In this document, the Heart Failure Collaboratory provides guidance that addresses issues of concern to participants, investigators, coordinators, regulatory authorities, payers, sponsors and all those involved in heart failure trials.

Several other IHVI physicians recently contributed to articles published in major peer-reviewed professional journals on various aspects of cardiothoracic and vascular care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alexander Truesdell, MD coauthored a SCAI position statement on the optimal interventional treatment for complex coronary disease.  Shashank Sinha, MD, Medical Director of IHVI’s Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, Michael Flanagan, MD and Timothy Welch, MD, the latter two of whom are advanced heart failure specialists, contributed to a JACC article on modifications in cardiac critical care. Dr. Sinha also authored an article for JACC on the impact of the pandemic on fellows in training and early career cardiologists. Richard Neville, MD, Director of Inova Vascular Services, Associate Director of IHVI and Vice-Chairman of the Department of Surgery, contributed to an article on a new model of care for wound centers. Alan Speir, MD, Medical Director of Cardiac Surgical Services contributed to an article on cardiothoracic surgical advocacy during the COVID-19.

“The continued broad and active participation of our faculty in clinical trials, outcomes research and academic publications demonstrates our commitment to excellence. This degree of involvement at a national level speaks to the caliber of talent on our team,” Dr. O’Connor said.

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