Global outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has forced healthcare systems worldwide to reshape their facilities and protocols. Although not considered the frontline specialty in managing COVID-19 patients, neurosurgical service and training were also significantly affected. This article focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak at a low- and/or middle-income country (LMIC) academic tertiary referral hospital, the university and hospital policies and actions for the neurosurgical service and training program during the outbreak, and the contingency plan for future reference on preparedness for service and education.
The authors collected data from several official databases, including the Indonesian Ministry of Health database, East Java provincial government database, hospital database, and neurosurgery operative case log. Policies and regulations information was obtained from stakeholders, including the Indonesian Society of Neurological Surgeons, the hospital board of directors, and the dean’s office.
The curve of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia had not flattened by the 2nd week of June 2020. Surabaya, the second-largest city in Indonesia, became the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia. The neurosurgical service experienced a significant drop in cases (50% of cases from normal days) along all lines (outpatient clinic, emergency room, and surgical ward). Despite a strict preadmission screening, postoperative COVID-19 infection cases were detected during the treatment course of neurosurgical patients, and those with a positive COVID-19 infection had a high mortality rate. The reduction in the overall number of cases treated in the neurosurgical service had an impact on the educational and training program. The digital environment found popularity in the educational term; however, digital resources could not replace direct exposure to real patients. The education stakeholders adjusted the undergraduate students’ clinical postings and residents’ working schemes for safety reasons.
The neurosurgery service at an academic tertiary referral hospital in an LMIC experienced a significant reduction in cases. The university and program directors had to adapt to an off-campus and off-hospital policy for neurosurgical residents and undergraduate students. The hospital instituted a reorganization of residents for service. The digital environment found popularity during the outbreak to support the educational process.