During the Covid-19 outbreak of early 2020 I started working on some graphs with data about the NYC emergency department case counts. This page is a collection of the different aspects of that project.
- Initial Graph: Was the potential presence of Covid-19 visible in syndromic surveillance data from NYC’s EpiQuery?
- Graph: What is the increased burden placed on the NYC emergency department as a result of what is likely to be Covid-19?
- Graph: What is the increased burden to NYC emergency departments when viewed through Respiratory Syndromic Surveillance?
- Graph: Combined ILI and Respiratory case counts as a Covid-19 testing proxy for determining load on emergency departments.
- Background resources and additional projects related to syndromic surveillance and the human experience of Covid-19 in the medical workplace.
- Loadband: a pattern for indicating work load, was conceived of as a way to visualize comparisons between emergency department workloads from different time periods.
- Caveats. It is important to read the ways in which all of this should be taken with a grain of salt.
Why is it important to understand Covid-19 burden on NYC emergency departments?
The concern with Covid-19 or any pandemic is that it will overwhelm a health system. Once a health system is overwhelmed then people die not only from the pandemic illness. They also die because dealing with the pandemic takes up all of the available beds, equipment, and personnel.
If you get in a car accident but all of the ICU beds are taken up with pandemic illness patients your chances of dying increase. Or if you are in need of pediatric ICU but one of the Drs in the unit is infected, now the unit is quarantined and this will effect the level of your medical care. Or if the emergency department is crowded with worried people who are not ill and you arrive with a broken foot your treatment might be delayed due to heavier administrative burden.
With Covid-19 we don’t have much insight into how prevalent it is in NYC. This is because we have been unable to access testing in a significant way. As a result, we aren’t sure how intense the wave of illness will be. The examples of Italy, South Korea, and China suggest that the wave of illness will be quite intense.