Seattle Children’s system-wide number of positive COVID-19 swabs has been approximately doubling every week for the past four weeks and is about three times higher than any other time in the pandemic. Not only are the raw numbers increasing but our positivity rate has gone from about 2% a few weeks ago to nearly 20% last week.

Urgent Care (UC) update from Dr. Jay Santos, UC medical director

Our four Urgent Care clinics remain at maximum capacity. In addition to the continued unprecedented demand for UC services, we also have a large number of staff who are currently out sick or who need to quarantine which is further impacting our capacity. We greatly appreciate all efforts PCPs are making to see patients in clinic or via telehealth.

If your patient needs only a COVID-19 test and it is simply due to potential exposure or mild illness, please consider:

  • Directing them to a local drive-through testing center.
  • Sending them to our UC but be sure to have them make an appointment for testing only rather than a regular UC appointment or a walk-in; you’ll need to fill out our COVID-19 lab requisition to order the testing for your patient and have them call us to schedule the test (206-987-2100).

These measures will improve UC access overall and help patients avoid a UC bill.

Emergency Department (ED) update from Dr. Tony Woodward, ED medical director

Happy New Year! We are excited about the opportunity to continue working closely together over this coming year. After predictably lower volumes of acute medical and mental health emergency department visits during the recent holidays, as well as decreased hospital occupancy, we expect to rapidly return to pre-holiday volumes. The ED has experienced surges to over 200% capacity several times in the last month, requiring that we see patients in outdoor tents and reconfigured patient care spaces including hallways, storage areas and multiple lobbies. We have added to our provider staffing in anticipation of high volumes continuing. Our time to see some of these patients is sometimes longer than we would hope due to the overcrowding. We encourage community providers, as able, to continue to see patients with mild to moderate illness for whom you don’t have immediate concerns of severe illness. We are always available for those who are acutely ill, have progressive signs/symptoms or for whom you have significant concerns. Please call us through the ED communication center (206-987-8899), as always, with any questions or ED-related needs.

Switching to more telehealth for January

Seattle Children’s ambulatory clinics are making a concerted effort throughout January to switch in-person visits to telehealth when it is safe and effective to do so, in response to anticipated significant staffing shortages over the next few weeks due to COVID-19. The decision to see a patient via telehealth or in person will be determined by their provider.