Dear friends, supporters and followers of MHAUS,
As much as we at MHAUS are dedicated to controlling and eliminating the risks associated with MH and MH-related disorders, it is clear that we are now living through a very difficult medical crisis, i.e., the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic is not related in any way to MH or MH-associated conditions as far as any of us know. However, we are all affected in some way or another by this dangerous virus for which, at present, there is no vaccine or cure. Hence, we must all follow the outlines of managing any similar crisis.
I would like to personally thank and praise all of our MH hotline consultants and members of the organization who care for patients as part of their daily routine. This includes physicians, nurse anesthetists, nurses, administrative coordinators and many others. I just heard from one of our consultants who described the difficulty of caring for patients while dressed in personal protective equipment while taking extra precautions when performing procedures on infected (or suspected) coronavirus-infected patients. It’s not easy!
As rapid identification of COVID-19 infected patients becomes more widespread through a variety of FDA-approved tests, it will become clearer which patients are to be treated with special precautions, but that will take time. Nevertheless, we are witnessing a rapid mobilization of construction of additional hospital beds to care for patients; much as would happen in wartime. In addition, it is essential that our hospital personnel are protected as well through the availability of personal protective equipment. Since many of you are also in the medical field, I am sure that you are well aware of this issue.
Social distancing wherever possible and frequent handwashing for at least 20 seconds are other essential mechanisms to reduce the incremental growth of the numbers of patients with the virus. I would like to underline that all of us follow the guidelines about transmission that are displayed in so many places, to protect oneself and those around us, as inconvenient as they may be.
While there is so much focus on the pandemic around us, we still continue with initiatives that relate to finding answers to problems arising from those with genetic changes that predispose to MH. The coronavirus epidemic does not lessen the chances that a susceptible individual might develop MH. For example, with intubation being required for many people now outside the OR, the use of one of the triggering drugs for MH, succinylcholine, may increase and therefore may lead to more MH cases.
Fortunately, every facility should have an adequate supply of dantrolene available to treat an MH episode no matter where it occurs. What we don’t know is whether signs of MH might be altered should a person suffering from COVID-19 develops an MH episode.
A few things that are happening with us at MHAUS include a reduction of staff in the office, with more individuals working from home at least part of the time; members of our Professional Advisory Council are evaluating submissions related to our request for proposals to document the frequency of clinical MH episodes by examining electronic medical records; we are transitioning the back-office data related to calls to the Hotline to the North American MH Registry in Gainesville, Florida; we continue to enhance our regular MH publications such as The Communicator and the MH Hot Topics e-newsletter; a consortium of MH experts from around the world continues to meet periodically via the web under the guidance of Dr. Les Biesecker of the National Human Genome Research Institute to determine how many genetic variants found in the genes that predispose to MH are truly pathogenic or very likely pathogenic; the office continues to respond to requests for training material for preparation for MH; our monthly MH-related webinars continue to be produced; and we are now exploring the possibility of providing continuing education credits for those attending the webinars.
On behalf of the staff and the Board of MHAUS, as well as everyone who supports our colleagues and friends who are dedicated to the care of those dealing with patients at this time, I wish to express my appreciation for your continued support of the activities of MHAUS.