Local urgent care facilities at full capacity due to COVID, forced to turn away some patients

COVID-19 rates continue to put a big strain on our local healthcare facilities, and many are seeing firsthand the widespread affect the virus can have on people suffering from medical emergencies that aren’t COVID related.

Many hospitals still cannot perform numerous medical procedures deemed non-urgent, even though they feel urgent to patients. And in some cases, ERs and urgent care facilities are so full with COVID patients, other patients have to be turned away. 

Kati Kennedy and her family have tried to play it safe during the pandemic.

"We always said whatever we do be extra cautious," said Kati, "we don’t want to end up in the emergency room, and then over the last few months hearing all these stories of people not being able to get in—we were extra cautious."

But with three young kids, accidents can happen.

"Henry’s friends mom came running over and it was that special scream where you're like, 'This isn't good.'" Kati’s six-year-old son Henry had fallen off the monkey bars and his wrist looked to be in rough shape, so she rushed him to Evergreen urgent care in Redmond. 

"When we went up to the receptionist she was like ‘Nope, you've got to go, we've reached our capacity, there's a bunch of COVID patients.’"

Kati says the receptionist explained the rooms were full with people sick from the virus. "My son was screaming, I mean, he was in so much pain, and the woman just looked at me—and it wasn't her fault—she was just doing her job, and she looked at me and said ‘Nope there’s nothing we can do,’ and I said ‘So I need to take my six-year-old son who’s screaming in pain, load him back up in the car and take him elsewhere?’ and she said ‘Yep,’ so I was shocked, to say the least."

Kati was eventually able to get her son into another urgent care where they determined he’d broken his wrist. The family has already been taking COVID very seriously, but now, the severity of it has really hit home.

"This is still here, this is real," said Kati.

ICUs, emergency rooms and urgent cares around the state have been flooded with COVID patients in recent months, putting a big strain on the healthcare system. As a result, there is a delay in care for some medical cases deemed non-life threatening. Evergreen Health told us since June of this year, patient volumes at their urgent care locations have been more than double what they projected. They say they’ve still been able to provide care for 99.5% of patients, but like many healthcare providers, they are overloaded. 

"We can’t blame the healthcare system at all, not one bit," said Kati's husband, Eric.

"Yeah, we appreciate them so much and everything they’re doing and the sacrifices they’re making," said Kati. "And, I know that they had to hate sending him away, I can't imagine being the person who had to tell the six-year-old and their mom you have to leave."

King County health officer Jeff Duchin says the stress on the healthcare system is improving slightly, but due to the severity of illness they’re seeing in COVID patients, their hospital stay is lengthy, which makes openings for new patients take longer than usual. He says it’s crucial everyone does their part to control the spread.

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