CHEO warns of patient surge amid RSV, COVID-19 and flu cases

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A warning from the city’s children’s hospital about unprecedented pressures on a system that is seeing record volumes month after month.

CHEO President Alex Munter says inpatient drug occupancy was at the 134 percent occupancy rate, and the pediatric intensive care unit was at the 125 percent occupancy rate. There were 254 visits to the emergency department.

Munter says, “To put that in context, the emergency department is designed for 150 visits, so 100 more of the space was designed. We have an average of 229 visitors per day”.

The hospital says the reasons for the recent surge at this time include an increase in RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), an increase in COVID-19 cases, and an upcoming flu season.

RSV infects the lungs and airways. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and congestion. It can lead to more serious illnesses like pneumonia or bronchitis.

CHEO also says RSV admission numbers so far this month are 10 times the pre-pandemic historical average of three for the month.

“What we’re seeing right now in terms of RSV at CHEO mirrors what we’re seeing across Ontario and south of the border… a significant increase in RSV numbers and a significant increase in RSV hospitalizations and this it’s an initial surge,” says Dr. Chuck Hui, chief of infectious diseases, immunology and allergies.

“But like all respiratory illnesses, they disproportionately affect children, especially those under the age of two. So what happens with RSV, you can have a fever, a cough, a runny nose, most of the time people do pretty well.

“Some people may need hospitalization for support, either because they are breathing rapidly and are exhausted in terms of breathing or because their oxygen levels have dropped,” says Hui.

There is no vaccine for RSV, but Hui says there is hope that one will be developed in the near future.

Munter says, “The simple fact is that we have an increase in demand, an increase in demand, for a variety of reasons, and at the same time, families have fewer options for care, so neither CHEO nor any of our Organizations are designed for this. type of demand. Our doctors, our staff are working as hard as they can. We are innovating, we are changing processes, we are recruiting staff, but we know that the waits are longer than you would like, they are longer than we would like and we are working to correct that.

The hospital has redeployed staff from other areas to help with demand.

On Tuesday, CHEO was treating five children and youth as inpatients: four admitted for COVID-19 and one with COVID-19m but admitted for another reason. On Monday, he was treating eight hospitalized children and young people, seven for COVID.

CHEO says it’s rare to have flu admissions in October, but so far this month there have been two.

Dr. Melissa Langevin, associate medical director for emergency medicine at CHEO, says there is something parents can do at home while managing symptoms.

Langevin says that parents should try to clear children’s noses as much as possible and keep them hydrated with plenty of fluids.

“Keeping children upright often with secretions, gravity helps, and especially with young children who don’t have the ability to cough,” says Langevin.

An emergency visit may be required.

“You want to watch for shortness of breath in the ribs and neck, poor feeding, drowsiness if they don’t have a fever or, in young babies, if they have a fever or pauses in breathing, you need to go to the ER.”

The hospital says demand is not expected to drop in the coming months.

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