Emergency Department volumes

A new space opened in the hospital in July to help care for Emergency Department (ED) patients with mental health concerns. The ED still has capacity constraints, especially in the evenings secondary to patient surges and patients who remain in the ED awaiting final disposition. Effective July 18, Seattle Children’s deactivated the code yellow for the surge in youth mental health patients and the Emergency Department (ED). Seattle Children’s continues to update our policies and improve workflows to support mental health patients experiencing extended lengths of stay due to barriers to discharge.

Please continue to call the Mission Control team at 206-987-8899 when sending a patient to the Seattle Children’s ED.


Chemotherapy drug shortages

A nationwide shortage of certain chemotherapy drugs is impacting many hospitals, including Seattle Children’s. It is not yet known when supply will improve. Some of our patients may require changes to their treatment; our care teams are working hard to limit negative impacts. We are working with multiple distributors to secure as much medication as possible.

Internally, we have assembled a multidisciplinary workgroup to address this issue including oncologists, rheumatologists, pharmacists, ethicists, equity consultants from the Center for Diversity and Health Equity (CDHE), hospital leaders and the incident command team. The workgroup is striving to prioritize equity and be as transparent as possible, both with our providers and patient families.

Externally, Seattle Children’s is participating in a coordinated, regional response. We are meeting with other programs who treat children with cancer across the region, including representatives from Washington, Alaska, Montana, Idaho and Oregon. This workgroup helps us to align on strategies for our shared patient population. Seattle Children’s is also participating in a national workgroup of pediatric oncologist ethicists and pharmacists to remain up to date on practice guidelines and advocacy efforts related to the shortages.

Updates to COVID-19 mask guidance, effective July 13

Last month, Seattle Children’s revised its COVID-19 mask guidance for workforce members, patients and families and eye protection requirements for workforce members. We worked with healthcare leaders across the region to look at the transmission rates of COVID-19, and because transmission rates were low, we made the decision to focus the requirements for workforce members on clinical interactions and no longer require patients, families and visitors to wear a mask unless they have respiratory symptoms.

We still recommend masking for everyone.  Please see the impacts outlined below.

Patient, family and visitor impacts

  • What CHANGED: Unless symptomatic, masking is recommended but no longer required for patients, families and visitors across all locations.
  • What did NOT CHANGE: Symptomatic patients, families and visitors are required to mask.


Workforce impacts

  • What CHANGED:
    • Masking is recommended but no longer required for workforce members in public areas of clinical spaces, including hallways outside patient rooms on inpatient units and waiting rooms.
    • Eye protection is recommended but no longer required for workforce members for all patient care activities. Follow transmission-based precautions to know when eye protection is required
  • What did NOT CHANGE:
    • Workforce members are still required to wear masks when providing patient care.
    • In situations where there are no isolation concerns and it is clinically indicated to remove a mask (such as speaking with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing or when working with eating disorder eating groups), workforce members may remove their mask only to speak with the other person.
    • Masking continues to be recommended but not required for:
      • Workforce members in nonclinical buildings and locations.
      • Workforce members in nonclinical outpatient social gatherings not related to direct clinical care (such as patient and family gatherings for support and bonding).
    • Workforce members are still required to wear eye protection for:
      • All clinical encounters with patients when there is risk of splash.
      • All transmission-based precautions that require eye protection (such as viral respiratory isolation or airborne strict isolation).