Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City is nearing capacity with a surge in RSV and flu cases

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A sustained rise in respiratory illnesses weighs on Children’s Mercy Hospital. Respiratory syncytial virus and influenza have filled hospital beds and resulted in long wait times for patients to be treated, all at the same time as high rates and a tremendous drain on a healthcare system already strained by COVID,” said Dr. Jennifer Watts, Chief Emergency Management Medical Officer at Children’s Mercy. “We’re at or near capacity almost every day here right now and with the flu still rising and RSV still increasing, that’s certainly a concern.” Watts said most children’s hospitals she knows have their internal disaster recovery system activated to help deal with the virus “And we haven’t even reached the peak yet, so it’s a little scary to think about where we might be going,” she said, bold and affected by the RSV and flu outbreak. “We also can’t take all these calls from outside of our area to help. So, for the first time in a long time, we’re seeing our demand exceed our capacity in pediatrics,” Watts said. RSV and flu can begin with cold-like symptoms, including a runny nose, cough, and fever. “If it gets to the point where your child is having significant breathing difficulties, they need to see a doctor right away,” Watts said. She recommends getting a flu shot for children over the age of six months and adults. While most children with the flu or RSV don’t require hospitalization, Watts said Children’s Mercy treats children over the age of two and some affected adults, which she says isn’t common compared to previous years. “We have pediatric deaths every year from influenza and we have them every year from RSV, it certainly does happen, we see serious illnesses with that. We see children being intubated who require intensive care for both RSV and influenza. Even if a child doesn’t die from it, it can have a serious impact on your life even if you recover from this disease,” she said. Watts also said the flu and RSV are rising much earlier than most years. She said it’s unclear when these two illnesses will peak in the Kansas City area. The University of Kansas Health System is also receiving requests from across the region to admit patients. Spokesperson Jill Chadwick said the hospital is also full.

A continued rise in respiratory illnesses weighs heavily on Children’s Mercy Hospital.

Respiratory syncytial virus and the flu have filled hospital beds and led to long waits for patients to be treated.

“What matters right now is that they are simultaneously increasing rapidly and putting a tremendous strain on the healthcare system, which is already under severe strain from COVID,” said Dr. Jennifer Watts, Chief Physician of Emergency Management at Children’s Mercy. “We’re at full or near full capacity almost every day here at the moment and with the flu still rising and RSV still increasing, that’s certainly a concern.”

Watts said most children’s hospitals she knows have activated their internal disaster recovery system to deal with the virus surge.

“And we haven’t even peaked yet, so it’s a little bit scary to think about where we’re possibly going,” she said.

Children’s Mercy is receiving calls from across the country to admit patients as most children’s hospitals are full and impacted by the RSV and flu outbreak.

“We also can’t take all these calls from outside of our area to help. Therefore, for the first time in a long time, we are seeing our demand exceed our capacity in pediatrics,” said Watts.

RSV and flu can begin with cold-like symptoms, including a runny nose, cough, and fever.

“If it gets to the point where your child is having significant breathing difficulties, they need to see a doctor right away,” Watts said.

She recommends getting a flu shot for children over the age of six months and adults.

While most children with the flu or RSV don’t need to be hospitalized, Watts sees Children’s Mercy seeing children over the age of two and some adults affected, which she says is not common compared to previous years.

“We have pediatric deaths every year from influenza and we have them every year from RSV, it certainly does happen, we see serious illnesses with that. We see children being intubated who need intensive care for both RSV and influenza. So even if a child doesn’t die from it, it can still have a serious impact on your life, even if you recover from this disease,” she said.

Watts also said the flu and RSV are rising much earlier than most years. She said it’s unclear when these two diseases will peak in the Kansas City area.

The University of Kansas Health System is also receiving requests from across the region to enroll patients. Spokeswoman Jill Chadwick said the hospital was also full.

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