Provider News

Updates on Emergency Department and Urgent Care Volumes, Masking and More

November 1, 2023

Emergency Department Volumes

Last month, the Emergency Department (ED) began an enhanced care process to help address ongoing staffing and space constraints. Elements include a provider-in-triage and use of lobbies as spaces where patients can receive some types of care and wait for results. This means that patients may see more than one provider during their stay (in triage and again as part of a care team), and they may have movement to and from lobbies while we maximize the use of each ED room. These changes have helped reduce wait times for patients, shorten their length of stay and reduce our left-without-being-seen rates.

When referring patients and families to the ED, please let them know that things might seem different than what they have previously experienced.

As a reminder, please call Mission Control when sending patients to the ED to help us prepare: 206-987-8899.

We welcome questions from you as well as our patients and families.

Urgent Care Update

Our Urgent Care (UC) sites continue to see high patient volumes, with September 2023 volumes 40% higher than September 2022. Over the past 12 months, our UC sites have seen 17,000 more patients than in any prior 12-month period. We have expanded capacity rapidly to keep pace, offering telehealth this year for the first time and offering expanded hours at our Seattle location.

Despite this significant expansion, we still face capacity constraints. We can take a limited number of walk-ins each day, but the only way for families to guarantee being seen is by reserving a spot either online or by calling our scheduling team. Please continue to encourage families to reserve a slot before coming to urgent care.

Please refer to our Emergency vs. Urgent Care Referral Guide when needed.

Masking Requirements

We continue to monitor viral thresholds to determine when we will make changes that include enhanced masking recommendations.  Currently we recommend but do not require that patients, families and visitors wear a mask when visiting our facilities.

We follow King County data, which can be found here: Respiratory virus data dashboards: COVID-19, Influenza, and RSV – King County, Washington

For the state, you can look here: Respiratory Illness Data Dashboard | Washington State Department of Health

Chemotherapy Drugs

The chemotherapy drug shortage remains unchanged from last month with regard to supplies at Seattle Children’s; we continue to work with our distributors to ensure adequate quantities and coordinate at the regional and national level to find long-term solutions.