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Seattle hospital over 130 percent capacity, no longer admitting non-emergency patients

Medical facilities in Washington state have been suffering from a staffing crisis following a Covid vaccine mandate that was enacted by Democrat Governor Jay Inslee for state and hospital workers.

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Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
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Harborview Medical Center in Seattle announced Thursday that the facility is over capacity by approximately 150 patients, and will have to temporarily stop admitting patients with less acute conditions, diverting people to other facilities for treatment.

The hospital’s licensed capacity is 413 but has more than 560 inpatients, meaning that capacity is over 130 percent. Other area hospitals report ready and willing to work with the medical center which all said they could "surge" to accommodate additional patients.

According to a release from the hospital, there are also over 100 patients who are waiting to be discharged.

Harborview CEO Sommer Kleweno Walley said, "Given the unique position Harborview has in the community as the level 1 trauma center, as the disaster center, and here for all critical illness, we had to make a very difficult decision today - one that has been weighing on our minds as UW Medicine leadership."

"In order to ensure that we maintain our critical capacity for any type of trauma that is needed in our region and for any type of critical illness, we have moved to going on what we call 'basic life support divert.' Patients not in need of more urgent care will be needed to be taken care of and brought by ambulances to other hospitals surrounding Harborview in the area. Harborview for this time period will no longer be able to take care of the less acute patients in order to maintain our capacity."

"In order to ensure that we maintain our critical capacity for any type of trauma that is needed in our region and for any type of critical illness, we have moved to going on what we call basic life support divert," Walley said.

Dr. Steve Mitchell, acting medical director of Harborview Medical Center, said "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 is the only Level 1 trauma center in the state but officials said they will continue to accept patients with life-threatening injuries. However, those who do not need urgent care will be directed to another hospital.

A first responder told The Post Millennial, "Harborview has a backlog of patients that they are unable to transfer to nursing homes. The area nursing homes are all full, and not taking new patients."

He added, "I have heard that they are full due to staffing issues (ie not enough RNs and CNAs, so only filling facility to what their staffs can handle). Harborview has to keep patients that they would normally discharge to a lower level of care facility. Since they cannot discharge these patients, they are overflowing. Other area hospitals are also experiencing a lack of NH beds. Harborview will still take advanced life support and burn patient admissions."

An internal email from Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins to the department obtained by The Post Millennial stated that "Harborview is asking all BLS (Basic Life Support) transports to be diverted to other local hospitals through Monday, Aug. 15. Harborview will continue to accept critical ALS patients, to include critical trauma and burn patients."

"Harborview is currently at 130% capacity. Factors include the lack of staffing at nursing/rehab facilities that would normally receive patients needing that level of care. That is creating a backlog of patients in the emergency department, impacting Harborview’s ability to receive additional non-critical patients."

Medical facilities in Washington state have been suffering from a staffing crisis following a Covid vaccine mandate that was enacted by Democrat Governor Jay Inslee for state and hospital workers.

Earlier this week, the Yakima Board of Health sent a letter to Inslee asking him to rescind the vaccine mandate.

County Commissioner Amanda McKinney criticized Proclamation 21-14.5, which requires employees, volunteers, and contractors for state agencies, schools, and health care organizations to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

McKinney said, "We still have this situation where I think unfortunately our governor is putting this in place when we’ve seen that although we’ve had a lot of information and data supports that getting the vaccine or having naturally acquired immunity does provide protection against significant illness and hospitalization, it certainly doesn’t prevent you from getting the virus."

McKinney added that since the Covid vaccine cannot stop the spread of the virus or prevent individuals from contracting it, then it should be a matter of personal choice whether or not to get vaccinated.

Last Friday, Inslee removed the requirement for boosters but left the vaccine mandate in place following negotiations with labor unions.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released revised guidance for addressing COVID-19, which loosened several measures and included that vaccinated people now have the same guidance as unvaccinated people.

According to a survey conducted by the Washington State Hospital Association this year, hospitals in the state suffered a net loss of about $929 million in the first three months of 2022, due in part to high inflation and labor shortages, which have resulted in labor, drug and supply cost increasing faster than payment rates.

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