Doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center are concerned about a sharp increase in visits to emergency rooms and urgent care centers because of increases in RSV and other respiratory illnesses.
Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth saw 500 patients per day last week, and another 800 were seeking treatment at its seven urgent care centers, officials said Friday during a press conference.
Dr. Taylor Louden, medical director of Cook Children’s emergency department, said Cook’s is a Level 2 trauma center, meaning patients come from as far as Lubbock for treatment and emergency rooms are reaching their limits.
“We are becoming overwhelmed with patients,” he said.
On Thursday, Louden said 423 patients visited the emergency department, and cases are approaching 500 a day. “This means people are checking in every three minutes making it difficult to care for our sickest patients,” he said.
This results in long wait times for non-serious complaints.
Cook Children’s encourages parents and caregivers to consult with their pediatrician before visiting the emergency room. Many viral illnesses can be treated at home with rest and lots of hydration.
Doctors encouraged parents to return to protocols used during the COVID-19 pandemic such as frequent hand washing and teaching children to cough into their elbows.
Parents should not go to urgent care or emergency rooms for RSV and COVID tests, as primary care doctors can perform them.
Tips from Cook Children’s Medical Center
When to seek immediate care:
▪ Any temperature greater than 100.4 in an infant under two months of age is considered a medical emergency. If your child has a fever for more than three days, contact your pediatrician or visit an urgent care center.
▪ Concerns for dehydration. In dehydrated babies, parents will see fewer wet diapers or a lack of tears. Their flat spot can also appear more sunken.
▪ Your child is breathing faster than usual or you can see the skin between the ribs being sucked in.
▪ If your child is requiring frequent use of their albuterol rescue inhaler or is having worsening asthma symptoms.
Symptoms of RSV in infants younger than 6 months may include:
▪ Poor feeding
▪ Episodes when they stop breathing
Infants and children over 6 months may experience:
▪ Runny nose
▪ Loss of appetite
▪ Sometimes wheezing
Flu and COVID-19 share similar symptoms as RSV and may also include sore throat, headaches, body aches, chills and change/loss of taste and smell.
RSV vaccines are available this year for people 60 and older and for pregnant mothers that will protect newborns. Monoclonal antibodies are also available for infants.In children under five and adults over 65, the RSV virus can cause serious illness and death.
RSV causes at least 58,000 hospitalizations and between 100 and 300 deaths in children younger than 5, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.