Allegheny General Hospital (AGH)—part of the Allegheny Health Network (AHN)—teamed with 20 academic medical centers across the United States and will investigate the best ways to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection among front line health care workers in hospital emergency departments. The COVID-19 Evaluation of Risk in Emergency Departments (COVERED) Project is supported by a $3.7 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The COVERED Project is a 12-week study involving 1,600 emergency department personnel in 20 academic health care institutions nationwide, including physicians, nurses and staff such as clerks, social workers and case managers. The 20 sites nationwide collectively are highly actively in clinical trials and this effort directly corresponds to that critically important discipline in these settings.
The CDC has funded this study to help these prominent health centers determine what practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) most effectively prevent exposure to COVID-19 in an emergency setting, where incoming patients may or may not have the virus, and emergency procedures can increase the risk of spreading the virus through the air. PPE includes face masks, face shields, gowns and gloves, as well as other relevant equipment.
This study will enroll both emergency physicians who do and do not typically perform endotracheal intubation (inserting a breathing tube) in suspected COVID-19 patients, as well as emergency department nurses and non-clinical staff. Past epidemics, such as SARS and MARS, reveal endotracheal procedures—aerosol-generating techniques—can increase the risk of virus transmission to health care workers.
Duration and Procedures
The COVERED Project team will follow emergency department staff enrolled in the study for three months. Participants will undergo screenings and biweekly blood tests and nasal swabs to evaluate for COVID-19 exposure. Questionnaires also will be completed weekly so that procedural practices are documented.
Nicholas Mohr, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine and vice chair for research in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and David Talan, MD, professor of emergency medicine and infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA serve the overall COVERED Project study as co-principal investigators.
Meanwhile, Jestin Carlson, MD, an emergency physician at Allegheny Health Network’s Saint Vincent Hospital serves as co-investigator along with Arvind Venkat, MD, an emergency physician at Allegheny General Hospital.
The Collaborating Site Networks
The COVERED Project is made possible by a collaboration involving EMERGEncy ID NET, a network of 12 emergency departments funded by the CDC to study emerging infectious diseases and led by Dr. Talan, and the National Emergency Airway Registry (NEAR), which involves 26 major centers.
The Allegheny Health Network
Allegheny Health Network (AHN.org), a Highmark Health company, is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the greater Western Pennsylvania region. The Network is composed of 12 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, Health + Wellness Pavilions, multiple employed physician organizations, home and community-based health services, a research institute, and a group purchasing organization. The Network provides patients with access to a complete spectrum of advanced medical services, including nationally recognized programs for primary and emergency care, trauma care, cardiovascular disease, organ transplantation, cancer care, orthopedic surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, women’s health, diabetes, autoimmune disease and more. AHN employs approximately 21,000 people, has more than 2,500 physicians on its medical staff and serves as a clinical campus for Drexel University College of Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine, and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine