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J Am Coll Emerg Physicians Open ; 3(1): e12622, 2022 Feb.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1648782


OBJECTIVE: To characterize the national distribution of COVID-19 hospital and emergency department visitor restriction policies across the United States, focusing on patients with cognitive or physical impairment or receiving end-of-life care. METHODS: Cross-sectional study of visitor policies and exceptions, using a nationally representative random sample of EDs and hospitals during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, by trained study investigators using standardized instrument. RESULTS: Of the 352 hospitals studied, 326 (93%) had a COVID-19 hospital-wide visitor restriction policy and 164 (47%) also had an ED-specific policy. Hospital-wide policies were more prevalent at academic than non-academic (96% vs 90%; P < 0.05) and at urban than rural sites (95% vs 84%; P < 0.001); however, the prevalence of ED-specific policies did not significantly differ across these site characteristics. Geographic region was not associated with the prevalence of any visitor policies. Among all study sites, only 58% of hospitals reported exceptions for patients receiving end-of-life care, 39% for persons with cognitive impairment, and 33% for persons with physical impairment, and only 12% provided policies in non-English languages. Sites with ED-specific policies reported even fewer exceptions for patients with cognitive impairment (29%), with physical impairments (24%), or receiving end-of-life care (26%). CONCLUSION: Although the benefits of visitor policies towards curbing COVID-19 transmission had not been firmly established, such policies were widespread among US hospitals. Exceptions that permitted family or other caregivers for patients with cognitive or physical impairments or receiving end-of-life care were predominantly lacking, as were policies in non-English languages.

J Telemed Telecare ; : 1357633X211070725, 2022 Jan 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1648418


BACKGROUND: With the rapid increase in telehealth use during the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns have been raised about the potential for exacerbating existing healthcare disparities in marginalized populations. While eliminating barriers such as transportation and time constraints, telehealth may introduce barriers related to technology access. With little known about the patient experience accessing telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, this study seeks to understand the barriers and facilitators to telehealth use as well as interventions that may address them. METHODS: We conducted qualitative interviews with parents of pediatric patients of a primary care clinic in a diverse community during the study period of March-May 2021. The interviews explored barriers and facilitators to telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interviews were balanced across language (Spanish and English) as well as across visit type (in-person vs. telehealth). Recruitment, collection of demographic information, and interviews were conducted by telephone. The conversations were recorded and transcribed. Once thematic saturation was achieved, the data were analyzed using a modified grounded theory approach. RESULTS: Of the 33 participants, 17 (52%) spoke English and 16 (48%) spoke Spanish. A total of 17 (52%) had experienced a telehealth encounter as their first visit during the study period while 16 (48%) had an in-person visit. Five themes were identified: (1) a recognition of differences in technological knowledge and access, (2) situational preferences for telehealth versus in-person visits, (3) avoidance of COVID-19 exposure, (4) convenience, and (5) change over time. English-speaking patients expressed greater ease with and a preference for telehealth, while Spanish-speaking participants expressed more technological difficulty with telehealth and a preference for in-person visits. Suggested interventions included informational tutorials such as videos before the visit, technical support, and providing families with technological devices. CONCLUSION: In this study, we examined patient and family perspectives on pediatric telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Implementation of the suggested interventions to address barriers to telehealth use is essential to prevent further exacerbation of health disparities already experienced by marginalized populations.

J Am Geriatr Soc ; 70(2): 341-351, 2022 Feb.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1526379


BACKGROUND: Evaluating older adults with cognitive dysfunction in emergency departments (EDs) requires obtaining collateral information from sources other than the patient. Understanding the challenges emergency clinicians face in obtaining collateral information can inform development of interventions to improve geriatric emergency care and, more specifically, detection of ED delirium. The objective was to understand emergency clinicians' experiences obtaining collateral information on older adults with cognitive dysfunction, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: From February to May 2021, we conducted semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 22 emergency physicians and advanced practice providers from two urban academic hospitals and one community hospital in the Northeast United States. Interviews lasted 10-20 min and were digitally recorded and transcribed. Interview transcripts were analyzed for dominant themes using a combined deductive-inductive approach. Responses regarding experiences before and during the pandemic were compared. RESULTS: Five major challenges emerged regarding (1) availability of caregivers, (2) reliability of sources, (3) language barriers, (4) time constraints, and (5) incomplete transfer documentation. Participants perceived all challenges, but those relating to transfer documentation were amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. CONCLUSION: Emergency clinicians' perspectives can inform efforts to support caregiver presence at bedside and develop standardized communication tools to improve recognition of delirium and, more broadly, geriatric emergency care.

Caregivers/psychology , Cognitive Dysfunction/diagnosis , Communication Barriers , Emergency Service, Hospital , Health Personnel/statistics & numerical data , Medical Records , Aged , COVID-19 , Female , Humans , Interviews as Topic , Male , New England , Qualitative Research