WA hospitals are far over capacity, as backlogs and staff shortages add up

July 18, 2022

Washington’s hospitals are again “dramatically over capacity,” as challenges discharging patients worsen and staff shortages persist, the state’s health care leaders said Monday.

In a news briefing, leaders from the Washington State Hospital Association said many health care facilities are 120% to 130% full, leading to long wait times in emergency departments, declining patient care and disruptions in ambulance services throughout the state. The high patient loads aren’t directly due to COVID-19 cases: Instead, officials say delayed procedures and difficulties discharging hospital patients are behind the capacity problems.

“We are doing our best, but many of our hospitals — especially in the west side of our state in the populated areas of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties — are more strained today than really at any other point since the pandemic began,” said Dr. Steve Mitchell, medical director of Harborview Medical Center’s emergency department and the Washington Medical Coordination Center.

Read the full story from The Seattle Times here.