Provider News

Updates on Hospital Capacity, Masking Guidance and More

October 4, 2023

Emergency Department capacity

The Emergency Department (ED) has been experiencing high volumes and significant evening surges since the start of the school year. We continue to see many patients presenting for mental health assessment and are still requiring a significant number of those patients to wait more than 24 hours for the next step in care (inpatient bed, transfer or discharge). To handle the high demand, staff and procedures are in place; please do not hesitate to send patients to the ED when you have emergent concerns.

See our Emergency or Urgent Care Referral Guide for assistance.

Masking and visitor policies

Currently we recommend but do not require that patients, families and visitors wear a mask when visiting our facilities. Workforce members are required to wear hospital-issued masks or higher-level masks for all clinical encounters and are recommended to wear masks in other work locations.

Masking and other policy changes that were anticipated to go into effect at Seattle Children’s on October 2nd were postponed. However, updates are likely in the near future as we monitor COVID-19 trends in partnership with other hospitals in the area.

Seattle Children’s masking and visitor policies are set in accordance with the standards adopted by the Northwest Healthcare Response Network that call for universal masking in hospitals and ambulatory clinics when either of the following thresholds is reached:

  • Emergency department visits in the relevant county reach designated thresholds for influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or COVID-19
  • CDC COVID-19 new hospital admissions levels reach “medium” in the relevant county (g., King, Snohomish, Pierce).

For more information, visit the NWHRN site.

Seattle Children’s now providing influenza vaccinations to patients

Seattle Children’s is providing influenza vaccinations to patients in the inpatient and ambulatory settings, including the Emergency Department, Urgent Care, surgical areas at the hospital campus and Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC). Patients will be screened for eligibility. All vaccinations given to patients are documented in the Child Profile Immunization Registry.

We will provide flu shot vouchers to patients’ family members and household contacts ages 3 and older during patient visits and stays that can be used at Albertsons-owned pharmacies (includes Acme, Albertsons, Carrs, Haggen, Safeway and others), Bartell Drugs and Rite Aid in Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Washington state with no out-of-pocket costs. (The participating pharmacies will bill family members’ insurance, if available, and charge any remaining balance to Children’s).

Family members can also download the flu voucher in multiple languages from  Family members and household contacts 6 months to 35 months old will need to get their flu vaccine at their primary care provider’s office.

Seattle Children’s efforts to vaccinate patients are in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase access to the vaccine in healthcare settings.

For questions about flu vaccinations at Children’s, email infectious diseases specialist Dr. Yasaman Fatemi at

RSV management with nirsevimab

Nirsevimab, a long-acting monoclonal antibody, is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for all infants to protect against severe disease caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Seattle Children’s has approved nirsevimab for use in the inpatient setting only at this time. We will share information about outpatient availability as soon we know more.

In preparation for the RSV season, the Pediatric Pandemic Network (PPN) has created a comprehensive resource guide for RSV management with nirsevimab. These resources include FAQs for providers, surveillance tools and resources for parents.

For more information:

Pediatric Pandemic Network offers vital resources in anticipation of the fall and winter respiratory disease season

To help providers prepare for the high levels of respiratory disease and hospitalizations that are expected in the coming months, the PPN has curated a list of resources:

The PPN was created to address gaps in the pediatric healthcare system that were exposed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, so that we are better prepared for future emergencies, disasters and global health threats. The PPN’s network of children’s hospitals — including Seattle Children’s — serve as regional hubs to improve care for all children in collaboration with regional and national programs, community organizations, academic institutions and individual experts. To learn more about PPN, visit

Chemotherapy drug supply

  • Two additional national chemotherapy shortages have been announced (vinblastine and dacarbazine), in addition to ongoing shortages of common pediatric cancer drugs carboplatin, methotrexate and cisplatin.
  • We continue to monitor our supply closely and work with our distributors to ensure we have adequate quantities, including methotrexate.
  • We are coordinating our efforts regionally and nationally to look for long-term solutions to ongoing medication shortages that impact patient care.