Seattle Children’s emergency room sees unprecedented demand

The Seattle Children’s Hospital emergency room said it was seeing an unprecedented number of patients.

SEATTLE — The Seattle (ER) children’s emergency room is facing long wait times and an unprecedented number of patients coming through its doors.

dr Tony Woodward, medical director of Seattle’s pediatric emergency medicine department, said it’s not just because of COVID-19 that children come to the hospital. He said children have not been exposed to common viruses as often as the pandemic has progressed.

Many children have been wearing masks at school during the pandemic. But now that the mask requirement has been lifted, children are getting sicker. In addition, the cots in most hospitals are full. That means most patients now go to the emergency room instead.

It’s a problem that Woodward said will get worse as flu season approaches.

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“We converted a storage room into a patient care room; we have a tent. We see patients in a tent,” Woodward said. “It’s unsatisfactory for everyone, for the staff, for the doctors, for the families, to be seen in these side rooms, but that’s the only option because we don’t have enough physical beds.”

Woodward said despite long waits, families should never avoid going to an emergency room if needed. Patients are seen according to the severity of their illness and always receive the prompt care they need.

On the Seattle Children’s website, the hospital asks guardians to contact the child’s first responder for illnesses and injuries that aren’t medical emergencies. The hospital also has a list on its website that dictates when parents should take children to the emergency room or emergency center.

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