Emergency Medicine Physicians Receive Grant Funds for COVID-19 Research

TUCSON, Ariz. — To encourage COVID-19 related research, the National Foundation of Emergency Medicine (NFEM) awarded funding for emergency medicine physicians who are current NFEM scholars. Selected from NFEM’s 10 partner institutions across the country, the Scholar/Mentor Program is a 2-year program that matches junior faculty members in an academic track in Emergency Medicine with mentors at their institution. This program provides an opportunity for scholars to work on translational medicine research and foster professional development. Nine scholar-mentor pairs applied for and will receive grants for COVID-19 related research projects.

This unique opportunity for funding provides $10,000 to a single scholar project and $15,000 to scholars collaborating with other scholars and partner institution. Such funding encourages collaboration among scholars and their partner institution.

“These types of studies are paramount to understanding how pandemics affect healthcare systems across region and patient population,” said Michael A. Rolnick, MD, President & CEO of NFEM. “Each project is unique and seeks answers to a diverse number of research questions—each tailored to the scholar’s individual areas of interest.”

“In many ways, the emergency department is the safety net of the US health care system,” said Charles Cairns, MD, NFEM Board Member and Annenberg Dean at Drexel University College of Medicine, “EDs provide the majority of acute unscheduled care and diagnostics, are the chief source of hospital admissions, and are an essential component of the community health infrastructure.”

Below is a brief synopsis of each approved research topic:

Kori S. Zachrison, MD, MSc is an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Zachrison will examine the use of electronic personal protective equipment, or “e-PPE,” whereby providers use telemedicine to evaluate patients in the same ED, reducing exposure or consumption of PPE. The central scientific hypothesis is that, with an interpreter, telemedicine is feasible for use as e-PPE for the emergency care of COVID-19 patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) and that it provides equivalent quality of care. Dr. Zachrison is mentored by Carlos Camargo, DrPH, MD.

Monique  Antoinette  Smith, MD is the Director of Acute Care Design + Innovation Center a t Emory University and Gabriel  Wardi, MD, MPH is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of California San Diego. Dr. Smith and Dr. Wardi are collaborating on a multi-institutional project to utilize “big data” and advanced computational methods to better predict the need for delayed tracheal intubation in Emergency Department patients. These scholars jointly propose to develop a real-time interpretable deep learning algorithm to identify the need for mechanical ventilation in patients with and without COVID-19 who present to the emergency department within 48 hours after triage. Dr. Smith is mentored by Jonathan Rupp, MD and Dr. Wardi is mentored by Stephen R. Hayden, MD.

Debbie Madhok, MD is an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of California San Francisco. Dr. Madhok will study the impact of Stay-At-Home orders on the incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in Emergency Departments in a multi-center study. Dr. Madhok aims to describe the variation in volumes and types of TBI across EDs before, during, and immediately after COVID-19 Stay-At-Home orders and highlight communities at risk of preventable TBI during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Madhok is mentored by Robert Rodriguez, MD.

Justin  Brooten, MD is an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Dr. Brooten will study the association between frailty scores and health-related outcomes in patients over age 65 with COVID-19 infection to see if this is an independent predictor of poor outcomes. Dr. Brooten will implement a retrospective cohort study of patients over age 65 who were admitted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and tested positive for COVID-19 infection, compared with patients who did not test positive for COVID-19 from March 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021. Dr. Brooten is mentored by David Cline, MD.  

Elizabeth Clair, DO is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at University of Mississippi Medical Center. Dr. Clair will implement a prospective cross-sectional survey for emergency medicine physicians (EMPs) in order to identify the current mental health needs of frontline medical providers. The primary aim of this project is to determine the prevalence of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), burnout, and work engagement among EMPs in the US during COVID-19.  Dr. Clair is mentored by Erin Dehon, PhD.  

Zachary Dezman, MD, MS, MS is an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Maryland. Dr. Dezman will implement a multicenter study of the impact of non-pharmacological interventions on the Emergency Department operations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, and Wyoming during the 2019 coronavirus pandemic. He will construct a retrospective cohort of all emergency department visits and admissions to 55 hospitals over the study period and collect encounter data that will determine if there is a relationship between non-pharmacological interventions at the state level and COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality. Dr. Dezman is mentored by Stephen Thom, MD.  

Dana  Sacco, MD is an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Columbia University. Dr. Sacco will utilize a retrospective cohort study design to examine patient visits for psychiatric and substance abuse-related complaints at New York Presbyterian-Columbia University Medical Center Emergency Department. She will analyze ED patients undergoing psychiatric consultation and ICD-10 codes corresponding with substance abuse complaints during the study period compared to the previous year in order to see if there is a relationship between the pandemic and psychiatric and substance abuse related encounters in the emergency department. Dr. Sacco is mentored by Angela Mills, MD.  

Elaine Situ-LaCasse, MD is an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Arizona. Dr. Situ-LaCasse, aims to solve the problem of rural emergency medicine providers knowledge gap in lung ultrasound and plans to create a tele-ultrasound education program. The primary objective is to determine the feasibility of implementing a tele-ultrasound training program for lung point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) to facilitate the evaluation of suspected COVID-19 patients in rural Emergency Departments. Dr. Situ-LaCasse is mentored by Srikar Adhikari, MD.

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About the National Foundation of Emergency Medicine

The National Foundation of Emergency Medicine was founded in 2010 in order to encourage and support the development of career academic emergency medicine scientists. The Scholar Mentor Program has been running for 3 years, producing three cohorts of scholars and mentors from 10 partner institutions across the United States.

NFEM Board of Directors includes Michael Rolnick, MD, David Taylor, MD, Harvey Meislin, MD, David Sheehan, Esquire and Charles Cairns, MD, who reviewed and approved the eight grant proposals by nine Foundation Scholars interested in COVID-19 related research. Karen Lutrick, PhD is the NFEM Director of Programs and Operations. Dr. Lutrick coordinated the grant application process and will provide support and guidance to the scholars as they begin their research projects.

The National Foundation of Emergency Medicine’s mission is to:

Serve as a national platform for the improvement and expansion of research in Emergency Medicine
Advance best practices and clinical excellence in Emergency Medicine
Identify and support emergency medicine academic physicians to engage in and fund multi-institutional testing and research

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