Joint Letter to the White House on Emergency Department Boarding

There is no question that Americans have suffered great loss of life and endured financial hardships, across all sectors, over the past 32 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontline healthcare workers risked their lives, provided care during physically and emotionally demanding situations, and bore witness to their patients’ goodbyes to loved ones from afar.

Yet, in recent months, hospital emergency departments (EDs) have been brought to a breaking point. Not from a novel problem – rather, from a decades-long,1 unresolved problem known as patient “boarding,” where admitted patients are held in the ED when there are no inpatient beds available. While the causes of ED boarding are multifactorial, unprecedented and rising staffing shortages throughout the health care system have recently brought this issue to a crisis point, further spiraling the stress and burnout driving the current exodus of excellent physicians, nurses and other health care professionals.

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