Disparities in Access to Emergency Care and Effect on Patient Outcomes

Investigator: Renee Hsia, MD
Sponsor: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Location(s): United States


After her training, she chose to work as an emergency department physician at San Francisco General Hospital, the safety-net hospital for the area. Because her division was mainly a clinical program at the time she began, however, there were few research colleagues with whom she could collaborate on these issues. Hsia, however, found a group of like-minded peers in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Physician Faculty Scholars program. The three-year career development award, which Hsia received in 2009, gave her the salary support and time she needed to focus her research on the broader systematic issues that she felt were vital to the health of the patients she saw every day.

RWJF Physician Faculty Scholars, which ran from 2006 through November 2012, sought to strengthen junior medical faculty’s leadership skills and academic productivity. Scholars received funds for a three-year research project, along with mentoring, networking, and other supports. Read the Program Results Report for more information on the program.

For her research project, Hsia studied the impact of emergency department and trauma center closures on underserved populations. She found that hospital emergency rooms, especially those that serve people who are poor in urban areas, were closing at an alarming rate. Nearly one-third of hospital emergency departments in urban and suburban areas closed between 1990 and 2009.