An increase in RSV cases is leading to longer ER wait times at Children’s Hospital of UPMC

A surge in the quantity of infants affected by RSV respiratory illness is growing emergency room wait times at Children’s Hospital of UPMC in Pittsburgh, officers stated.

Dr. Children’s Emergency Department Director Raymond Pitetti stated the rise in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) started about six weeks in the past and has continued to increase.

“RSV is beginning to unfold,” he stated. “We’re additionally seeing extra flu cases, however the increase hasn’t been as speedy.”

He stated some youngsters are nonetheless testing optimistic for covid-19, however most have “plateaued”.

In the week of October. 17-23, 155 sufferers examined optimistic for RSV at Children’s Hospital, the place the quantity of cases has elevated by 15 or 20 per week since September. It was 11, 32.

In the week of October. On October 18-24, 2021, 31 optimistic cases of RSV have been registered in the hospital.

Children introduced to the emergency room obtain a fast triage evaluation by a nurse to decide the severity of their sickness, however the time it takes to see a health care provider or be admitted to the hospital will be a lot longer, Piteti stated.

“The quantity in TR was a lot increased,” he stated. “Waiting time will be 4 to six hours.”

Pitetti stated he had no drawback discovering beds for youngsters who wanted to be hospitalized.

“We do have full beds from time to time, however when that occurs we by no means postpone,” he stated. “We serve sufferers in the hospital till the mattress opens. Unfortunately, this could take hours and is irritating for folks. We really feel them.”

Members of the hospital’s administration meet recurrently to develop plans for the way to deal with the surge, which could lead on to mattress shortages, Pitetti stated.

RSV is a standard an infection that causes cold-like signs resembling cough, fever and runny nostril, stated Dr. Joseph Aracri, chairman of the Allegheny Health Network Pediatric Institute.

“It’s quite common, like a chilly, actually,” he stated. “But we’re involved when younger infants get sick as a result of it causes irritation in their lungs and makes it tougher for them to breathe.”

Arakri stated infants are extra possible to find yourself in the hospital as a result of respiration difficulties, together with a runny nostril, could make it tough for them to take a bottle to feed and keep hydrated.

But RSV is not the one sickness brought on by respiratory viruses that sends children to the physician, he stated.

“Pick one – RSV, the flu, the flu and a few cases of covid,” he stated. “It’s all happening there. Our pediatric places of work have been overcrowded, particularly in the final week.”

Most youngsters with RSV or different respiratory sicknesses who go to one of AHN’s neighborhood hospitals are handled there, until their signs are extreme, Arakri stated.

“If a child appears steady however wants some help, like oxygen or IV fluids, till they settle down, they will simply be cared for at a neighborhood hospital,” she stated. “But if a health care provider sees a child who’s very sick, working exhausting to breathe, and has stopped respiration, then they want to be in a youngsters’s hospital.”

There is no vaccine for RSV, however signs can often be resolved by letting the virus run its course. Doctors can also prescribe oral steroids or an inhaler to make respiration simpler.

In probably the most extreme cases, youngsters could also be hospitalized, the place they could obtain oxygen, a respiration tube, or a ventilator.

While Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh has been ready to deal with the rise in RSV infections amongst infants, medical doctors at hospitals across the nation say they’re lagging behind.

Dr. Juan Salazar of Connecticut Children’s Hospital referred to as the latest RSV cases an “emergency.” He stated the hospital had to shuffle sufferers into playrooms and different areas not usually used for beds.

Dr. Elizabeth Mack of the Medical University of South Carolina stated they’re “swamped with RSV” as a result of it spiked above the norm earlier this yr.

RSV cases seem, Mack stated, because of this of immune programs that is probably not prepared to combat the virus after greater than two years of masking, which provided safety.

He stated masks restrictions, social distancing and different covid-mitigation measures have eased, whereas RSV and different viruses have elevated.

RSV usually causes about 58,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 deaths in youngsters underneath the age of 5 per yr. Almost all youngsters are contaminated with RSV earlier than the age of 2 years.

Excela Health officers couldn’t be reached for remark Sunday.

Tony LaRussa is a employees author for the Tribune-Review. You can contact Tony by way of electronic mail at or by way of Twitter .

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