America’s emergency departments need to adopt a holistic approach that encompasses mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery. Mitigation refers to efforts geared towards minimizing the impact of an outbreak before the event (Cao et al., 2020). For instance, in case of COVID-19, there was a considerable lag time between the first reported case and its spread throughout the US. Early mitigation strategies would have proved useful in reducing the spread of the virus. The second element, preparation, refers to preparedness activities necessary when mitigation measures have not or cannot prevent a disaster (Quah et al. 2020).
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For COVID-19, this entails stockpiling of resources such as PPE, ventilators, testing equipment, and other necessary supplies. It also entails gathering information to inform best practices for ensuring safety and desired patient outcomes. The third aspect, response, seeks to assist victims and reduce secondary damage. COVID-19 is an ER disease. Hence the US health care system needs to establish systems and approaches for responding to the disease in emergency rooms and find ways to expand oversight by critical care in ERs. Services such as telemedicine are crucial to improving the survival chances of the infected. The response phase also requires close monitoring for unintended outcomes and appropriate modification. The last but equally essential element is recovery. Preparation for recovery should begin as soon as the incident occurs. The goal should be to facilitate successful recovery with minimal health impacts (Cao et al. 2020).
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The US health care system should be regularly evaluating the capacity and availability of trained practitioners to assess contacts, manage new cases, and determine whether they return to ER is warranted. Notably, while ER attention mainly focuses on the response phase, effective emergency management requires a precisely balanced approach. Health care facilities need to provide care for all patients in the safest way possible. The use of this holistic approach in ERs can help America’s ERs mitigate the COVID-19 crisis.
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