COVID-19 grant recipients

June 2020

Successful applicants for the Special Funding Round COVID-19 have been announced by the Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF), with five innovative research projects to receive grants.

EMF General Manager, Dr Sonĵ Hall said the clinician-led research focused on finding the solutions to accelerate development of new medical interventions and revolutionise emergency healthcare.

“At the time of announcing these grants, there are 6.15 million confirmed cases worldwide of COVID-19,” said Dr Hall. “Access to timely, appropriate, and quality care is critical for good patient outcomes, never more so as we tackle this global health pandemic.”

Since COVID-19 was first confirmed in early 2020, the Australian Government has managed the outbreak as a health emergency, with systems rapidly adapted to prepare for a potential crisis.

The EMF Special Funding Round COVID-19 was offered to help front-line clinicians improve patient outcomes, protect healthcare staff from infection, and adapt policy and practice across the Queensland health system.

“Thankfully the number of cases in Queensland is relatively low, however, researchers must seize the opportunity to understand the impact of this pandemic on emergency department planning, preparation, and protecting frontline staff during a large-scale health crisis,” explained Dr Hall.

Research to evaluate current and future pandemic emergency medicine response

The grants will support emergency clinicians from four Queensland hospitals to investigate the effect of COVID-19 on emergency department (ED) presentations, and the ways in which infectious diseases are treated, including the role of technology.

With older people globally identified as a high-risk population, researchers at Sunshine Coast University Hospital will study Queensland emergency department (ED) presentations of this group – before, during and after COVID-19.

In one of two grants awarded to Gold Coast University Hospital, researchers will evaluate how the pandemic has affected the number and nature of patient presentations to Queensland EDs. Results will inform future management of patients requiring emergency care in the event of a second wave, or large-scale disaster.

The hospital’s second project will examine the increased risk of infection for staff, the longevity of their immune response and the proportion of asymptomatic staff infection. The project has major significance for ED staff and executive, and may also inform policy regarding routine staff screening to minimise risk.

To prevent transmission, patients with respiratory symptoms are isolated and assessed in designated high-risk zones within the ED where entry is restricted to essential staff wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Clinicians at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital will investigate remotely controlled mobile robots to facilitate contactless communication between patients and clinicians in this environment.

While most acute COVID-19 patients receive respiratory support, little is known about how differing devices can affect the spread of cough droplets. Queensland Children’s Hospital researchers seek to clarify the extent of environmental contamination during coughing and the effect of different respiratory support devices.

EMF thanks the Queensland Government for funding this Program through Queensland Health. Each of the research projects is expected to assist clinicians and policymakers better respond to the challenges of acute emergency medical care delivery during this and future pandemics.


Principal Investigator (PI)
Project Title
PI Institution
Amount awarded
Dr Elizabeth Marsden Patterns of Queensland Emergency Department presentations for older adults in three time periods: pre, peri and post COVID-19 Sunshine Coast University Hospital (Sunshine Coast HHS)


Dr Megan King SARS-CoV2 infection and immunity in frontline hospital staff during the COVID-19 pandemic Gold Coast University Hospital (Gold Coast Health)


Dr Mark Baldwin Can mobile robotic telepresence help clinicians safely deliver care to undifferentiated ED patients with respiratory symptoms? Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital (Metro North HHS)


Professor Julia Crilly Comprehensive Outcomes that VERify the impact on Emergency Departments from COVID-19 [The COVERED COVID study] Gold Coast University Hospital (Gold Coast Health)


Dr Kevin McCaffery Comparison of different respiratory supports in the mitigation or exacerbation of environmental droplet contamination following coughing Queensland Children’s Hospital (Children’s Health Queensland HHS)



Posted: 4 June 2020


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