Cardiac surgery during the COVID-19 sine wave: Preparation once, preparation twice. A view from Houston

J Card Surg. 2021 May;36(5):1615-1623. doi: 10.1111/jocs.14987. Epub 2020 Sep 28.


The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has created major challenges and disruptions to hospitals throughout the world, with profound implications for cardiac surgery and cardiac surgeons. In this review, we highlight the hospital and cardiac surgical experience at Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas as of mid-July 2020. Our local experience has consisted of a spring surge (early March to early May), followed by a relative flattening and then a summer surge (early June to present day), similar to a sine wave. Throughout the entire pandemic, our simultaneous medical priorities have been treating the growing number of patients with COVID-19 while continuing to provide needed care for those without COVID-19. The current situation will be the "new normal" until a vaccine becomes available. It will be vital to stay attuned to epidemiologists, public health officials, and infection control experts, because what they see today, the intensive care units will see tomorrow. The lessons we have learned are outlined in this review but can be summarized most succinctly: preparation. We must prepare in advance, stockpile supplies and personal protective equipment, have rapid and vigorous testing protocols in place, utilize technology (eg, online meetings, videoconference "office visits"), and encourage hospital-wide and community protective efforts (social distancing, mask wearing, hand hygiene). Hopefully, the lessons learned through this challenging experience will prepare us for the next time.

Keywords: COVID-19; Houston; cardiovascular surgery; pandemic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Texas