King County hospitals adapt to significant pressures from COVID-19

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Northwest Healthcare Response Network (NWHRN) tracks information on hospital capacity in our region. 

The NWHRN is reporting that hospitals in King County are maintaining available hospital capacity but also seeing significant impacts on hospital operations as the number of COVID-19 cases increases. 

Hospitals have taken multiple steps to meet the demand related to care of COVID-19 cases and are trying to adapt operations in the face of reduced PPE resources and other challenges to their operations.

The unprecedented steps our hospitals have taken are helping ensure hospital and ICU bed and ventilator capacity remain available in the region at this time.

Hospitals have responded to the increase in patients with COVID-19 and COVID-like illnesses by using surge strategies, such as postponing elective and non-emergency procedures, bringing in additional staff, and increasing the number of hospital beds. 

Other innovative changes to managing healthcare needs while decreasing opportunities for transmission of COVID-19 include drive-through clinics and telehealth.

Hospitals are continuing to find ways to maximally conserve limited supplies of PPE, to protect and care for front line health care teams, to use space efficiently, and to support each other by sharing resources across the region. 

Their close collaboration with each other, the Northwest Healthcare Response Network, as well as Public Health and the state, has made it possible to meet the need today while preparing for a potential much greater challenge in coming weeks or months.

Given this strain on the healthcare system, Public Health reminds everyone to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to preserve the emergency room for critical health needs. 

Do not go to the emergency room unless you are having an immediate medical emergency

People who receive a positive test result for COVID-19 should not go the emergency room unless they are experiencing severe symptoms (such as difficulty breathing) that require hospitalization. 

Less severe symptoms can be treated at home.

--Public Health Seattle and King County


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