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Less social emergency departments: implementation of workplace contact reduction during COVID-19
  1. Rohit B Sangal1,
  2. Jean E Scofi1,
  3. Vivek Parwani1,
  4. Andrew T Pickens1,
  5. Andrew Ulrich1,
  6. Arjun K Venkatesh1,2
  1. 1 Department of Emergency Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  2. 2 Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rohit B Sangal, Department of Emergency Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8055, USA; rohit.sangal{at}


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to rapid changes in community and healthcare delivery policies creating new and unique challenges to managing ED pandemic response efforts. One example is the practice of social distancing in the workplace as an internationally recommended non-pharmaceutical intervention to reduce transmission. While attention has been focused on public health measures, healthcare workers cannot overlook the transmission risk they present to their colleagues and patients. Our network of three EDs are all high traffic areas for both patients and staff, which makes the limitation of close person-to-person contact particularly difficult to achieve. To design, implement and communicate contact reduction changes in the ED workplace, our COVID-19 task force formalised a set of multidisciplinary recommendations that enumerated concrete ways to reduce healthcare worker transmission to coworkers and to patients from ED patient arrival to discharge. We also addressed staff-to-staff contact reduction strategies when not performing direct patient care. We describe our conceptual approach and successful implementation of workplace distancing.

  • emergency department
  • communications
  • infectious diseases

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  • Handling editor Ellen J Weber

  • Twitter @arjunvenkatesh

  • Contributors All authors contributed to conception and implementation of the workplace distancing guideline. RBS, AU, AKV drafted this manuscript with edits and figure generation by JES, ATP, VP. RBS and AKV are responsible for overall content.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.