Children’s hospitals, overflowing with respiratory patients, consider calling in the National Guard

HARTFORD, Connecticut (WTNH) – Some children’s hospitals across the country are overwhelmed with patients with respiratory illnesses.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), in particular, is on the rise, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases have increased, especially in the North-East and South.

In recent weeks, Connecticut Children’s Hospital in Hartford has exceeded capacity as more and more young children have been admitted with RSV. The hospital is currently in talks with the National Guard and FEMA about setting up a tent outside to increase capacity.

“We just don’t have that many intensive care beds [for children] because we have adult intensive care beds just because we don’t usually need them,” said Dr. Juan Salazar, chief medical officer at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

Cases began to rise in early September and grew exponentially, he said, the likes of which he had never seen before.

“Our hospital was full,” Salazar said. “Our traditional pediatric inpatient beds, we have three floors with 25 beds in each location, we can expand to 28. All were full this morning.”

At Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, RSV cases in the emergency department nearly doubled last week, from 57 to 106. Thirty children are admitted there daily with RSV. On the other hand, they only see 1 to 3 children a day in the emergency room with COVID-19.

Several DC-area hospitals have also been at full capacity for weeks, reports the Washington Post.

“The fact that you have to look at the parent and say that your child needs care at the intensive care level but we don’t have a bed for him: that’s a very difficult conversation to have,” said Sofia Teferi , pediatrician at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center. Job.

BNC News found that hospitals in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Rhode Island were also under pressure due to an influx of RSV patients.

For most children, RSV usually causes mild cold symptoms, including a runny nose, congestion, and mild fever. Salazar said it could be much worse for children who are immunocompromised or have a heart defect.

“Why so much in September and October? We don’t know,” Salazar said. “We have theories: herd immunity, immune suppression and everyone gets it at the same time – it’s the perfect storm in our emergency departments.”

Parents should watch for changes in their children’s breathing, which could be a sign of RSV. Other signs include:

  • rapid or short breaths
  • Growling noises
  • Chest collapses with each breath
  • Skin turning blue or purple due to lack of oxygen. On darker skin, look for changes in the lips, tongue, gums, and eye area

There is no vaccine for RSV, but Salazar encouraged parents concerned about their child to ask their pediatrician for immunoglobulin treatment. For mild cases of RSV, recovery usually takes a few days.

With Connecticut Children’s Hospital already at capacity, Salazar also feared the flu would overwhelm them.

“Don’t wait, please,” Salazar said. “Have the children vaccinated against the flu. It’s something you have to do, it’s very important for their family, and you help children’s hospitals to reduce the number of children who come.

Salazar said they already have two children hospitalized with the flu, which he says is highly unusual for October. He expected flu cases to increase significantly in the coming weeks and during the holidays.

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