Harborview Medical Center 30% over capacity, will stop accepting non-emergency patients

Aug 11, 2022, 3:28 PM


Harborview Medical Center (Flickr Creative Commons)

(Flickr Creative Commons)

Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center has too many patients, and they will have to stop admitting for less acute conditions, officials said Thursday.

At 2:30 p.m. this afternoon in a news conference, managers discussed the patient capacity problem which they say is having a significant impact on hospital operations.

They have moved to go into “basic life support divert,” where patients not in need of urgent care will be brought to other hospitals. In order to maintain capacity, they will not be taking on any patients that do not need the specific and specialized care available only at Harborview.

Officials are saying that the diversion will likely last through the weekend, and Governor Inslee’s office has sent over a team to evaluate how to alleviate the situation and possibly address the issue through legislation.

Providence Everett triages emergency room as staff shortage tightens

Harborview is the only level-one trauma center in our state, so they handle the most serious cases in our region.

Dr. Steve Mitchell, acting director of Harborview Medical Center, said they are seeing impacts across the entire healthcare continuum.

“What has been happening is that when ambulances arrive at emergency departments, they are unable to offload patients into beds inside the emergency department, and they’re having to wait for longer and longer periods of time – sometimes for hours – which is then impacting their ability to serve their communities for emergencies when they occur.”

Harborview has about 560 patients checked in right now, close to 150 more than they have licensed beds for.

Administrators say around 100 of those patients are ready to be discharged to nursing homes or rehab centers, but there are not enough beds and staff in those places to handle the patients.

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Harborview Medical Center 30% over capacity, will stop accepting non-emergency patients