Since our last update in early June, the Emergency Department (ED) is still over 100% capacity many evenings but has seen some decrease in wait times.  We continue to see many patients presenting for mental health assessment and are still requiring a significant number of those patients to wait more than 24 hours for the next step in care, which may be an inpatient bed in our Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit (PBMU), a transfer to an outside facility or a safe discharge plan.  As always, please do not hesitate to send patients to the ED when you have emergent concerns.

Overall inpatient census has improved.

We continue to monitor the situation and employ our internal Emergency Operations Center to ensure systemwide coordination to address capacity constraints.


How you can help:

  • Please continue to identify and manage lower-acuity complaints in outpatient settings to help maintain our limited capacity in the ED for higher-acuity concerns.
  • Before sending your patient to the ED, contact our Mission Control team with as much notice as possible at 206-987-8899. Your early call allows the necessary time to plan for your patient’s arrival, and, in appropriate instances, we may be able to directly admit your patient to the hospital or arrange an urgent ambulatory clinic visit in lieu of an ED visit.

As a reminder: Patients experiencing an emergency should come to the ED (or go to their local ED) without hesitation.

Resources that may help you manage patients in primary or urgent care instead of sending to the ED:

  1. Emergency or Urgent Care Referral Guide.
  2. For urgent medical care not related to mental and behavioral health, remind families to schedule an in-person or virtual Urgent Care appointment as early as possible to help them get timely access. They can use the UC online scheduling system or call the hospital’s main number at 206-987-2000.
  3. Algorithms and other PCP resources for 65+ conditions.
  4. The Partnership Access Line (PAL)supports primary care providers (doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants) with questions about mental health care such as diagnostic clarification, medication adjustment or treatment planning. Our child and adolescent psychiatrists are available to consult during business hours.
  5. The Washington Mental Health Referral Service connects patients and families with evidence-supported outpatient mental health services in their community. This free telephone-based referral service provides thorough mental health referrals for children and teens 17 and younger from across Washington.
  6. First Approach Skills Training (FAST) programs are designed to provide brief, evidence-based behavioral therapy for youth and families with common mental health concerns in settings such as primary care clinics or schools, where longer-term treatment is not typically provided. Program materials, as well as engagement and assessment tools for Mental Health Clinicians, are available on the FAST Website.
  7. Seattle Children’s online mental health hub: Provides resources for families and caregivers to reference for their child’s mental health and wellness. You can learn about common mental health problems in children and teens, how to recognize the signs of a problem and crisis and how to help your child or teen as well as what services are available.
  8. Family Resource Center – Child Mind Institute: Provides information for families and caregivers to help support children who are struggling with mental health, behavior or learning challenges.
  9. Strategies for Clinical Settings for Youth Suicide Prevention ( Provides a clinical pathway for addressing suicide prevention in pediatric practice.
  10. Mental Health Practice Tools and Resources ( Provides resources to help providers promote healthy mental development and address mental health concerns.


Thank you for your continued partnership.