70% of pediatric hospital beds in the United States are filled with respiratory illnesses

70% of pediatric hospital beds in the United States are filled with respiratory illnesses

as Increase in respiratory illness in childrenWith rhinovirus and enterovirus continuing across the country, a children’s hospital is considering setting up a field tent to deal with the influx of patients.

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford confirmed to ABC News that it is considering working with the National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Association as it explores the possibility of setting up a tent on the hospital’s lawn.

The hospital currently has more than a dozen pediatric patients waiting for beds.

“We’re looking at other options as well as adding space, like a mobile hospital on the front lawn,” Dr. John Brancanto, chief of emergency medicine at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, told ABC News’ Ariel Reshef. “We’re seeing very high numbers of patients and very high acuity.”

Another hospital in the state, Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, said overall RSV cases seen in the emergency department jumped from 57 last week to 106 today.

Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, associate medical director of infection prevention. According to Thomas Murray, the hospital currently has one to three children admitted with Covid-19, while 30 are admitted with RSV.

“I think the biggest concern from my perspective is the uncertainty of when the RSV surge will peak and what will happen with influenza as it starts circulating in the area,” Murray told ABC News. “Increasing numbers of influenza with high RSV numbers require us to expand our strategies to care for children.”

RSV – or respiratory syncytial virus – can cause mild, cold-like symptoms and, in severe cases, bronchiolitis or pneumonia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Most people recover within a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for children and older adults,” says the CDC.

Photo: Connecticut Children's Medical Center

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Connecticut Children’s Medical Center

Enteroviruses can cause respiratory illnesses ranging from mild — like the common cold — to severe, According to the CDC. In rare cases, severe cases of viral meningitis (infection of the lining of the spinal cord and brain) or acute flaccid myelitis, a neurologic condition that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis.

Hospitals in more than two dozen states and the District of Columbia — including Rhode Island, Washington, Colorado, Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, New Jersey and Massachusetts — told ABC News they were experiencing more of a crush than expected. Rates of specific pediatric infections other than Covid-19.

Nationally, children’s bed capacity is at a two-year high, with 71% of the estimated 40,000 beds filled, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Michael Koster, director of pediatric infectious diseases at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, said that “from mid-September to mid-October,” the number of RSV infection patients coming to the hospital “doubled.”

“These patients aren’t just from Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts — we’re seeing patients coming from over 100 miles away, because their local pediatric hospitals are full or closed,” Koster added.

In an advisory last month for pediatricians and hospitals shared with ABC News, the New Jersey Department of Health warned of increased levels of enterovirus and rhinovirus activity and noted that the state is seeing a similar “uptick” as other parts of the country.

A spokeswoman for the department told ABC News at the time that they were “monitoring and looking at daily hospitalizations and pediatric intensive care unit censuses across the state,” adding that officials planned to have a call with hospitals to “assess pediatric capacity” amid the surge.

Health experts say they expect the situation to worsen as the school year progresses and winter approaches.

“When I talk to children’s hospitals in Illinois and across the country, very publicly, they tell me that they are seeing an increase in pediatric admissions through the emergency department as well as children sick enough to need the pediatric intensive care unit,” said Dana Evans, respiratory therapist and director of the American Association for board member of Respiratory Care, told ABC News. “Most of them are telling me that what they’re seeing is rhinovirus and enterovirus. Some of them are seeing enterovirus D68.”

Photo: Stock photo of a nurse giving inhalation therapy to a pediatric patient.


A nurse administers inhalation therapy to a pediatric patient in a stock photo

Evans said it’s common for these viruses to make their way into the fall, though noted that the general patterns have changed since then. coronavirus Epidemic.

“Last year, RSV hit early in August, and this year it’s September,” Evans said. “We didn’t see that in 2020 — probably because of all the Covid mitigation strategies and masking and what we were doing to prevent the spread of Covid that also prevented the spread of other respiratory viruses — but here we are in 2022, and we’re back at it.”

According to Evans, the cause of the outbreak is likely a combination of factors, including the fact that some children were previously unexposed due to poor Covid-related hygiene practices and that it may be a “particularly virulent” strain of the virus.

Children with chronic lung disease, premature babies and children with asthma are considered particularly high risk.

Evans said children and families should practice good hygiene, such as hand washing and staying home when sick, to help prevent viral spread.

“Anyone who is exhibiting respiratory viral symptoms should really stay home, whether it’s home from school or home from work, so they don’t spread the virus to their friends or your coworkers,” Evans said. “It’s important to slow down the spread, so it slows down the spread in our communities, but also keeps others from getting sick.”

According to Evans, parents and guardians should seek medical help if a child has trouble breathing, wheezing, or their face turns blue or pale.

“Either coming to the emergency department or contacting your physician for recommendations on next steps at that point would be really important,” she said.

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