Influenza assessment centres: a case study of pandemic preparedness to alleviate excess emergency department volume

Authors: Geoffrey G. Hall, Alexander G. Perry, Adam vanDijk, Kieran M. Moore

Published: July 01, 2013 | Views: 47

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Influenza assessment centres (IACs) were deployed to reduce emergency department (ED) volumes during the pH1N1 influenza outbreak in the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) public health region of Ontario, Canada, in the fall of 2009. We present a case study for the deployment of IACs to reduce ED visit volume during both periods of pandemic and seasonal communicable disease outbreak.


An emergency department syndromic surveillance system was used to trigger the deployment of eight geographically distributed IACs and to time their staggered closure 3 weeks later. We compared actual and expected ED visit volumes in the KFL&A region to neighbouring regions where no IACs operated by time series regression analysis before, during, and after IAC operation.


The deployment of IACs was triggered with a rise in overall ED volume at the hospitals in the KFL&A region to a level 10% above the 6-month running average. The IACs assessed 2,284 patients during 3 weeks of operation. Thirty-three patients were admitted directly to the hospital from the IACs, bypassing the EDs. During the operation of the IACs, the hospitals in the KFL&A region experienced a modest decrease in daily visits when compared to the 3 previous weeks. Overall ED visit volume in the hospitals in the neighbouring regions increased 105% during the period of IAC operation.


Operating stand-alone influenza IACs may reduce ED volumes during periods of increased demand, as observed during an anticipated pandemic situation.

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