Utilisation and Management of an Emergency Department in a Tertiary Hospital in the Philippines During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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The Emergency Department (ED) plays the role of providing efficient and quality healthcare services to patients. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were observed changes in the ED’s utilisation and management reflecting the underlying challenges faced by most tertiary hospitals in the Philippines. This study aims to describe the changes in the utilisation and management of ED in a major COVID-19 hospital in the Philippines, its implications for inpatient admissions, and effect on ED staff. Patient data from 2019 (pre-pandemic) and 2020 (pandemic) were compared. In addition, this study administered a COVID-19-specific psychometric tool to assess the pandemic’s effect on ED staff. Comparing the pre-pandemic and pandemic census, this study found a 59.0% and 67.6% decrease in ED consultations and hospital admissions, respectively. ED consultations significantly shifted to older patients, with longer length of stay, increased out-of-pocket payment, and mostly presenting with respiratory-related chief complaints. There is a decrease in general hospital unit utilisation, and the addition of a COVID-19 ward and an ICU. Despite the changes, 63.6% of the ED staff exhibited good emotional adjustment to the stress brought by the pandemic. This study reported the situation of Philippine ED amid the pandemic and indicated the important management changes in ED.