Seattle Children’s is experiencing higher inpatient and ICU daily census than we have in previous years.

As the respiratory season and high-volume admission time approaches, our goal is to prioritize our hospital’s inpatient capacity for children who can only receive care at Children’s, such as our transplant, oncology and children with complex chronic medical conditions.

Last year, during viral season, we diverted a significant number of patients without a comprehensive plan. This year, we began planning early to manage anticipated capacity concerns.

New pathways are in development for previously healthy children with acute illness — such as asthma, bronchiolitis and croup — who may benefit from longer observation in the Emergency Department (ED) to avoid the need for admission.

We recognize this will affect a small portion of our acutely ill patients, may result in longer ED stays and less ED capacity for incoming patients, and will return patients to the community, and your practice, who have a higher level of illness than were discharged in the past.

To assist with this process, Children’s is adding care coordination resources to arrange next-day follow up with the patient’s primary care provider/team (preferred, when available), a visit in urgent care for minor issues, a telemedicine visit in their home or a return to the ED.

When Children’s does not have capacity for all the children who need admission, patients with routine pediatric issues will be directed to local hospitals, taking the patient’s diagnosis and residence into consideration. If you have preferences in these locations, it would be helpful to let us know.

Thank you for your partnership during this time. Please send your feedback to Ruth McDonald, Vice President, Associate Chief Medical Officer.