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U-M a hub for Michigan emergency department collaborative responding to COVID-19

Michigan Emergency Department Improvement Collaborative was established in 2015

Aerial view of the Michigan Medicine campus in Ann Arbor.
Aerial view of the Michigan Medicine campus in Ann Arbor. (Michigan Medicine)

ANN ARBOR – Regardless of where they are located, emergency departments share the goal of helping patients in need of immediate and oftentimes critical care.

In 2015, the Michigan Emergency Department Improvement Collaborative was established so that hospital emergency departments across the state could coordinate and learn from each other.

The consortium consists of 23 general and children’s hospitals that work to improve ER care in Michigan and its Coordinating Center is housed at the University of Michigan.

“Most emergency departments are a safety net for patients who would otherwise struggle to access health care,” Keith Kocher, an associate professor of emergency medicine and learning health sciences at Michigan Medicine and program director of MEDIC said in a statement. “The same can be said for patients needing immediate care during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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“At our core, MEDIC is a learning collaborative,” Michele Nypaver, a professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics at Michigan Medicine, and MEDIC’s co-director said in a statement. “Inherent in our mission is bringing emergency departments together to share frontline experiences and learn from one another.”

The university released this Q&A with Kocher and Nypaver about MEDIC.

How is MEDIC helping emergency departments across the state of Michigan in their responses to the pandemic?

Nypaver: As the MEDIC Coordinating Center, we decided we should do what we do best and support our emergency department community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We sponsored a series of town hall-style conference calls to convene our colleagues across the state to report on the experiences of their local emergency department and their response.

The town halls’ main objectives were to share ideas, learn from what is working and not working, and rapidly disseminate innovations to address the challenges we all face from the pandemic. For example, one town hall specifically focused on conserving personal protective equipment (PPE) while staying safe in the emergency department.

PPE is an issue of concern during the pandemic. What advice is MEDIC giving emergency departments for conserving PPE?

Kocher: We clearly and consistently heard that emergency department leaders across the state are worried about their PPE supplies. However, sites also shared some really amazing local innovations and solutions to help address and mitigate PPE shortages.

Using what we learned in that town hall, we created an infographic: “Conserving PPE in the Emergency Department.”

The infographic poses 15 questions for emergency departments to ask themselves as they confront current and future shortages of PPE with the priority of maintaining health care worker safety. These questions fall into three broad strategies:

  • How to reduce the demand for PPE
  • How to reuse and recycle PPE
  • How to increase the supply of PPE

We hope these questions will spawn additional local solutions and innovations as the health care system continues to confront on-going PPE shortages.

In addition to PPE, what are other topics around the pandemic that MEDIC has provided guidance on to emergency departments?

Nypaver: MEDIC has sponsored town halls on other topics, including special considerations in the care for children and workforce wellness in the emergency department.

Our next town hall will focus on key issues in the emergency department treatment of COVID-19 patients, drawing on the experiences from hospitals in southeast Michigan that have been at the forefront of the response to the pandemic. We also anticipate developing future topics, depending on the needs identified by our partners across the state.

Can emergency departments outside of the state of Michigan access this information and guidance?

Kocher: Yes. The MEDIC website has a webpage dedicated to our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will house all of our educational materials there and they are freely available for download.

How does MEDIC plan to help with the pandemic response in the future?

Kocher: We are currently exploring ways in which the data that MEDIC collects in its quality improvement clinical registry can be used to understand changes in the way emergency departments across the state delivered care during the pandemic.

To learn more about MEDIC, visit its website.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.