By Karen Freifeld
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Park Avenue plastic surgeon Dr. Douglas Senderoff usually performs tummy tucks and liposuction for well-heeled New Yorkers.
But with his practice suspended because of the coronavirus crisis, Senderoff wants to help colleagues on the front lines of fighting the virus in the city’s hospitals, where healthcare workers are trying to keep up with a flood of new patients. He also has an office anesthesia machine that can be converted into a ventilator.
There is a critical shortage of ventilators in the United States to treat people suffering the potentially deadly new flu-like virus, which can lead to breathing difficulties and pneumonia in severe cases. New York, the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, is among many U.S. states scrambling to procure more ventilators as quickly as possible.
“We’re sitting on the sidelines right now,” Senderoff said of himself and his fellow plastic surgeons. “But we’re a resource. We all have general surgery experience. We have ICU experience. There’s hundreds of us just sitting around, waiting for the call,” he said in an interview.
Senderoff is among members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons who have offered their equipment and registered for the medical reserve corps in their states. Reserve corps are volunteer health workers ready to respond to emergencies like that of the coronavirus.
The plastic surgeons society has launched an online clearinghouse for equipment and supplies to hospitals in need. Since then, it has received over 150 offers to donate supplies and equipment, including for about 40 ventilators, according to Adam Ross, a spokesman for the group.
Dr. Chris Craft, a plastic surgeon in Miami, said he is among those who answered the call from the society last Friday to contribute equipment. He said his office is filled with medical supplies because now is normally when people have cosmetic work done in preparation for the coming beach season.
“This is the biggest season for us for cosmetic surgery,” Craft said. “We’ve stockpiled for that and that’s not going to happen, so we need to do our part to see if we can help those who are on the front lines for us.”
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has about 8,000 members in the United States, about a third of whom are active members in private practice.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld, editing by Ross Colvin and Rosalba O’Brien)