Seattle hospital to refuse some patients due to capacity

Harborview Medical Center in Seattle will temporarily stop accepting less acute patients.

  • By Wire Service
  • Thursday, August 11, 2022 5:58pm
  • Northwest
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Associated Press

SEATTLE — Harborview Medical Center in Seattle will temporarily stop accepting less acute patients and will divert them to other health care systems as capacity challenges worsen, according to the hospital’s CEO.

“All hospital systems (are) very much over capacity with very high census numbers, particularly because of an inability to discharge patients into post-acute care settings,” Harborview CEO Sommer Kleweno Walley said in a media briefing Thursday. “This morning … Harborview reached an unprecedented census level.”

The hospital is caring for some 560 inpatients, more than 130% of its licensed capacity of 413 patients. About 100 are patients who no longer need hospitalization and are waiting to be discharged to a long-term care facility, like an adult family home, Kleweno Walley said.

“We’ve reached a level at this point where we do not feel it’s appropriate or safe to take in any more patients that don’t require the unique, very skilled expertise of providers and staff that we have in-house,” she said.

The plan, known as “basic life support divert,” likely will be in place at least through the weekend, she added.

“We’re really doing this at this point to preserve our ability to be the Level I trauma center and ensure all trauma and critical illness have a place to go.”

In addition to issues around discharging stable patients, delayed care and staffing shortages are also limiting available beds, said Dr. Steve Mitchell, the hospital’s acting medical director. King County’s growing and aging population has also meant more medical care is needed, Mitchell said.

The last time Harborview made this move was in September 2019.

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