The Covid-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned for Sustained Trauma Preparedness and Responses

Ann Surg. 2021 Jun 1;273(6):1051-1059. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000004695.


The emergence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus has led to an overwhelming strain on healthcare delivery. This pandemic has created a sustained stress on the modern healthcare system, with unforeseen and potential drastic effects. Although the initial focus during this pandemic has been preparedness and response directed to the pandemic itself, traumatic injury has continued to remain a common problem that requires immediate evaluation and care to provide optimal outcomes. The State of Washington had the first reported case and death related to COVID-19 in the United States. Harborview Medical Center, which serves as the sole Level-1 adult and pediatric trauma center for the state, was rapidly affected by COVID-19, but still needed to maintain preparedness and responses to injured patients for the region. Although initially the focus was on the emerging pandemic on institutional factors, it became obvious that sustained efforts for regional trauma care required a more global focus. Because of these factors, Harborview Medical Center was quickly entrusted to serve as the coordinating center for the regions COVID-19 response, while also continuing to provide optimal care for injured patients during the pandemic. This response allowed the care of injured patients to be maintained within designated trauma centers during this pandemic. This present report summarizes the evolution of trauma care delivery during the first phase of this pandemic and provides informative recommendations for sustained responses to the care of injured patients during the pandemic based on lessons learned during the initial response.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends*
  • Disaster Planning*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Trauma Centers / organization & administration*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Washington / epidemiology