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To assess the impact of an emergency intensive care unit (EICU) established concomitantly with a freestanding emergency department (ED) during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
We retrospectively reviewed records of all patients in Bellevue’s EICU from freestanding ED opening (December 10, 2012) until hospital inpatient reopening (February 7, 2013). Temporal and clinical data, and disposition upon EICU arrival, and ultimate disposition were evaluated.
Two hundred twenty-seven patients utilized the EICU, representing approximately 1.8% of freestanding ED patients. Ambulance arrival occurred in 31.6% of all EICU patients. Median length of stay was 11.55 hours; this was significantly longer for patients requiring airborne isolation (25.60 versus 11.37 hours, P<0.0001 by Wilcoxon rank sum test). After stabilization and treatment, 39% of EICU patients had an improvement in their disposition status (P<0.0001 by Wilcoxon signed rank test); upon interhospital transfer, the absolute proportion of patients requiring ICU and SDU resources decreased from 37.8% to 27.1% and from 22.2% to 2.7%, respectively.
An EICU attached to a freestanding ED achieved significant reductions in resource-intensive medical care. Flexible, adaptable care systems should be explored for implementation in disaster response. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:496–502)
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