A recent surge of respiratory illnesses in San Diego county is resulting in long waits at the Rady Children’s Hospital emergency room. In some cases, the waits are up to six hours, according to the hospital web page.
Michelle Krider was outside of the emergency room holding her coughing 5-year-old son. She had already been waiting an hour.
“We just got seen for his vitals, and we have no idea how long it will take. We’re not trying to be impatient just because there are a lot of kids here that need some help. We’re just starting to worry about how long it might take before he’s seen and receives care. We just don’t know when he’ll start to feel better,” said Krider.
Right now, there are between 300-400 young patients being seen at the Children’s Hospital emergency room. That’s double the normal amount of patients in an average year, according to the hospital’s Chief Operating Officer.
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“Some people say that potentially for those two years, there was no exposure to viruses, our immune systems may not be as readily revved up enough to handle the normal viruses,” said Dr. Nicholas Holmes.
Dr. Holmes says most of the patients are being seen for flu symptoms and RSV.
RSV typically impacts babies under one year old. But the hospitals are now seeing older children with RSV symptoms.
“We’re actually seeing it in kids that are school-aged and as well adults, so it’s really having an effect on everybody,” said Dr. Holmes.
He also says RSV season is typically between November and December, which is then followed by the flu season.
“What that’s telling us is that the flu is right around the corner for pediatric patients. Probably in the next four to six weeks, we’ll start to see a significant surge in influenza, it just means that all the regular preparations that we would do during the normal viral flu season have been sped up tremendously,” said Dr. Holmes.
It’s recommended parents first consult their child’s pediatrician before making a trip to a busy emergency room.
“Certainly, if your child is having difficulty breathing, a high fever that’s not responsive to Tylenol or Motrin or is not able to keep anything down, those are certainly cases or cause to consider a trip to the emergency department,” said Dr. Holmes.