Dr. Diane Arnaout, a pediatrician at Cook Children’s Forest Park Clinic in Fort Worth, published an essay Thursday setting out what doctors are seeing in local children’s hospitals as the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Avoiding the much-publicized need to recruit travel nurses, Arnaout focused instead on the number of people seeking medical help in the area’s hospitals and emergency centers. In conversations with her colleagues, Arnaout confirmed what has been reported over the past few days and weeks – that there is an influx of patients into the county hospitals, including children’s hospitals, that is unsustainable but can be moderated.
On Tuesday, Arnaout’s employer said it was making changes to opening hours and online check-ins in the area’s urgent care centers due to a record number of patients. Arnaout spoke to Dr. Kara Starnes, the medical director of the company’s emergency centers, who said they treated more patients every day than they did in a week during the pandemic last summer.
“This is an indication of the impact the Delta variant of SARS-CoV2 is having on our children. We are doing our best in the UCCs to deliver on Cook Children’s promise to every patient who walks in our doors but it does are more patients. ” than we can handle and our staff is exhausted, “Starnes told Arnaout.
The hospital said in a statement Tuesday that patient numbers in the emergency centers had increased, with more than 900 patients on Sunday and an additional 1,000 patients on Monday. The average number of patients normally treated in the emergency rooms was around 600.
Arnaout said she also met with Dr. Corwin Warmink, the director of the emergency department at the main hospital in downtown Fort Worth, who said they saw 587 patients in the emergency room on Monday – or a new patient every 2.5 minutes for 24 hours straight.
It’s not just COVID-19 that drives parents to take their children to hospital. Arnaout said, “Capacity has been limited in the past few weeks due to RSV, COVID-19, and other illnesses and injuries.”
If your child has been exposed to COVID-19 but is asymptomatic, Arnaout provided some practical advice for parents.
“If your child is exposed to COVID but is feeling fine – don’t panic. I wouldn’t run to the emergency room or the emergency room, ”Arnaout wrote. “I would consider making an appointment with your pediatrician, either in person or virtually, and scheduling a test 3-5 days after exposure. You can also consider having a home test.”
If your child is COVID-19 positive but drinks well, urinates, and breathes normally, and has not had a fever for more than five days and appears to be feeling fine, Arnaout said you should watch them closely and let your pediatrician know of any changes.
Arnaout then reiterated the message that so many health officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have shared for more than a year – wearing a mask helps prevent the virus from spreading and is recommended for all unvaccinated people.
“Masking your child protects others – absolutely. But it also protects your child. I strongly recommend sending your children to school with a mask on, ”said Arnaout.
Arnaout’s message was posted on the Checkup Newsroom, Cook Children’s Health Care System’s public website, where news about the health and wellbeing of children is exchanged. To read the doctor’s essay and see other recommended small changes that can be made to protect children, click here.