J Am Coll Emerg Physicians Open
The circumstances of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic necessitated an alternate operations strategy for efficient patient management. Alternate care sites were a viable option for managing emergency department (ED) surge in previous epidemics and disasters.
This study describes the development of an alternate care site and evaluates efficiency by comparing key performance indicators between an ad hoc nested respiratory evaluation unit (NRU) within the ED and an alternate care site outside the ED.
This was a cohort study of 2 care models in the same ED during 2 different time periods. As coronavirus disease 2019 surged in March 2020, potential treat-and-release patients with fever or respiratory symptoms were triaged to a dedicated ED area (NRU). As ED volume grew, these low-acuity patients were triaged to an ACS. We compared ED length of stay, elopement, and left without being evaluated rates and ED recidivism between the 2 care models: NRU patients presented to the ED from March 16, 2020, to March 31, 2020, and ACS patients presented from April 1, 2020, to April 15, 2020. Continuous variables were compared using independent t test or Mann-Whitney test. Categorical variables were compared using χ2test.
There were 414 NRU patients and 146 alternate care site patients with no significant differences in sex or age. The mean ED length of stay was shorter for alternate care site patients: 155 versus 45 minutes (P < 0.01). Elopement and left without being evaluated rates were higher in the NRU. There was no significant difference in ED recidivism between groups: 10% versus 6% (P= 0.15).
An alternate care site provided an efficient resource for the evaluation of patients with fever or respiratory symptoms during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
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School of Medicine