Pediatric hospitalization in WA

  • The Washington Medical Control Center (WMCC) is the regional transfer center developed during COVID-19 to ensure statewide situational awareness and to balance patient distribution across the state.  They reported that in December they had the highest numbers of calls ever in the pandemic.  This is indicative of the immense strain on the hospital system.
  • The large pediatric surge we experienced in November improved in December as WMCC reported fewer requests for assistance for pediatric transfers.


Capacity at Seattle Children’s

  • The Emergency Department (ED) is seeing lower volumes than the record numbers of patients seen in November. We anticipate those numbers rising as people return from holiday travel and start back to school.  We continue to have high mental health boarding in the ED with high acuity.
  • Seattle Children’s maintained high inpatient census with increased staffing challenges through the holidays.  We also have had very high acuity and high technology needs in the ICUs that challenged our ability to accommodate all surgical cases and transfers.  We anticipate staffing challenges to improve over the next couple weeks.
  • We are monitoring viral curves closely for RSV/influenza/other viruses.  We have seen a downward trend overall but will know more in the next few weeks.  We have not yet seen Influenza B but expect it will show up at some point.
  • SARS-CoV 2 is rising regionally and nationally as the Omicron variant XXB.1.5 becomes the dominant strain.  We are monitoring this rise closely and are currently unsure of the impact on pediatric patients.
  • Capacity in the Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit (PBMU) will be limited in 2023 due to two important initiatives that will provide improved care and capacity in the long-term: staff training to support a new model of care and replacement of the fire alarm system. We recognize any bed reductions in the PBMU will affect other departments, especially the ED. We are working to identify options for increased capacity for boarding ED mental health patients and are watching patient volumes closely to determine the safest options for care.


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 they may experience longer waits for non-critical issues and that we continue to triage to identify and see the most emergent patients first.

We continue to be deeply grateful to our colleagues in the community who are working relentlessly to care for pediatric patients in primary care and preserve capacity in hospitals and urgent cares for those patients who need it most.  Thank you!

For more information: