Washington state is currently experiencing a large RSV wave that is impacting a broad age range of children, with a disproportionate impact on children under the age of 2. Influenza activity in Washington State is now very high and other viruses are circulating also. The strain on hospital capacity is creating a critical situation for pediatric care in our state.

The situation at Seattle Children’s

  • Seattle Children’s has been experiencing record-setting census for inpatients, intensive care units (ICUs) and the Emergency Department (ED). Our capacity situation is critical.
  • Our ED is operating at 100% capacity almost around the clock, and up to 300% capacity in the evenings. We expect ED volumes to increase over the next several months.
  • We are rescheduling nonurgent admissions; surgical cases are being reviewed for need to admit, level of care and/or ability to safely remain in the postanesthesia care unit (PACU). Outpatient procedures and other-day surgery cases are not being screened at this time because they don’t impact inpatient capacity.

Hospital capacity in Washington for pediatric patients

  • The Washington Medical Control Center – created during COVID-19 to aid patient placement and avert ICU care rationing – was recently activated for pediatrics for the first time. They are seeing a high percentage of pediatric transfer requests.  They are reporting record calls similar to previous peaks during COVID-19 waves.
  • Hospitals in Washington are rapidly training staff to care for sick children, loosening rules on NICU admissions to increase capacity, and looking creatively for ways to care for children if a transfer isn’t available.

When sending patients to the ED

  • Our ED is open and ready to care for your patients; please do not hesitate to send patients when the ED is the appropriate setting for care.
  • When sending patients to the ED, please call our ED Communications Center at 206-987-8899 to help us plan for their arrival.
  • Let families know to expect long waits and that we are triaging to see the most critical patients first.

We want to express our gratitude to community providers in our region who are working relentlessly to care for pediatric patients within the primary care setting whenever possible, to preserve hospital and urgent care capacity for those patients who need it most.