Seattle Children’s Hospital faces ‘unprecedented’ ER wait times

SEATTLE — As flu season fast approaches, Seattle Children’s Hospital is already seeing an overflow of kids needing medical help.

KIRO 7 learned emergency wait times at the hospital are at multiyear highs without any signs of improving.

“I don’t think anyone’s shirking their responsibilities. Everybody’s trying to do the best they can do,” said Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director at Seattle Children’s.

Medical experts say it’s a reality of the pandemic.

That’s because there is a currently a shortage of pediatric medical workers, so when parents and their children can’t get seen for relatively common ailments, they’re heading to the emergency room at Seattle Children’s.

In Seattle, parents like Stephen and Marlo Taylor are especially worried about the emergency wait times.

“I think it’s hard for everybody,” said Stephen Taylor. “It’s hard for new parents who are worried about their little one, and it’s also hard for the people on the receiving end of that.”

The Taylors’ new daughter was born just two weeks ago, and they’re constantly on guard, making sure she’s OK.

“Luckily we live really close to the hospital, we can see it from our house, but still, if we got here and we had to wait, that would be scary,” Marlo Taylor noted.

To help as many people as possible, Seattle Children’s has opened additional beds and increased physician staffing.

Yet when it comes to nonemergencies, staffers recommend that parents first start with either their primary care physicians or urgent care, and only visit the emergency room when all other options don’t work.