University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Analysis of Emergency Department Patient-Visit Volumes in an Academic Health System During a COVID-19 Pandemic Statewide ‘Safer at Home’ Order

Morgan D. Wilbanks, MD; Nicole Fumo, MPH; Jamie M. Aranda, MD; Amy Zosel, MD; Jonathan Rubin, MD; John Ray, MD; Ian B. K. Martin, MD, MBA

WMJ. 2022;121(3):189-193

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Background: We describe patient-visit volumes, patient acuity, and demographics in our 4 academic health system emergency departments (ED) before, during, and after implementation of a COVID-19 pandemic safer-at-home order.

Methods: Data were collected from the electronic health record, including patient-visit volumes, chief complaint, Emergency Severity Index (ESI), and patient demographics. Descriptive statistics were performed.

Results: There was a 37% decrease in combined ED patient-visit volume during the safer-at-home order period (42% at the academic medical center). ED patient-visit volumes increased after the safer-at-home order concluded. During the safer-at-home order period, there was an increase in the proportion of ESI-2 visits and admission rates from EDs across the system.

Conclusions: Significant differences in ED patient-visit volumes and patient acuity were associated with a safer-at-home order in our academic health system. These differences are similar to experiences of other hospital systems across the country.

Author Affiliations: Department of Emergency Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Wilbanks, Aranda, Zosel, Rubin, Ray, Martin); Comprehensive Injury Center, MCW, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Fumo).
Corresponding Author: Morgan D. Wilbanks, MD, FACEP, Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226; phone 205.259.0110; email
Funding/Support: None declared.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
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