PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Lifespan says Hasbro Children’s Hospital is dealing with capacity constraints in its emergency department, resulting in long wait times for patients needing non-urgent care.

It’s an issue Lifespan says Hasbro has been dealing with for several weeks, but lately, it’s gotten worse.

Dr. Frank Overly, the medical director of the pediatric emergency department, told 12 News that in the past two days, there have been patients who waited for up to seven hours to be seen. Longer wait times are usually two to three hours.

The reason for the lengthy wait times is because the emergency department, with about 32 beds, has been at maximum capacity, or close to it.

Health officials say one reason is due to an uptick in children suffering from various illnesses, some of which are related to COVID-19, the flu, or other viruses.

There is also a behavioral health crisis and an increase in the number of kids suffering from anxiety or depression who need to go to other facilities, health officials added, but there’s no room for them, so they end up staying in the emergency room.

Another problem is the ongoing staffing shortages, with doctors and nurses out sick in the short term, or burnt out and leaving the field altogether.

Overly described it as a “perfect storm.”

“It’s been a tough couple of years on the whole staff. So, in addition to having some understanding as far as what’s going on, we’re asking people to be kind and patient with the nurses, doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and really all of our team members,” Overly said. “We’re working really hard to try to provide the care we need.”

“We know that we’re the only pediatric emergency department in the region. the only pediatric level one trauma center, burn center, and we really are passionate about providing that care and that service to the region,” Overly said with emotion. “But when we get overwhelmed with volume at times like this, it can be challenging.”

Lifespan says that the emergency room should not be the first stop for fevers and minor injuries.

Parents who have a question or concern about whether their child needs to go to the emergency room, Overly suggests reaching out to their primary care provider before heading to the hospital.

Health care officials say as of Thursday morning, there were 42 patients in the emergency room and 12 were waiting to be seen.