Children's hospitals brace for aftermath of holiday gatherings

While respiratory syncytial virus and the flu may have peaked, hospitals are still seeing high numbers of ill patients, and there is no telling whether holiday gatherings will reverse the plateau, CNN reported Dec. 21. 

"While we certainly hope families and friends have an opportunity to gather and spend time together this holiday season, this is also a time where we often see spikes in viral infections," Kevin Carney, MD, associate chief medical officer at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora, told the news outlet. "There is still plenty of RSV, COVID-19 and influenza circulating, and we encourage everyone to take precautions to keep themselves, their children and others healthy."

Amid a decade high for flu hospitalizations, early signs suggest flu season may peak early this year. RSV — which has been especially challenging for children's hospitals — has also peaked, though COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have just started to rise again. Regardless of the plateaus, hospitals have been under significant capacity strain from the severe respiratory virus season, staffing shortages and other factors. Pediatric hospital beds have been about three-quarters full for months, according to HHS data cited by CNN. That is up from an average of about 66 percent in recent years. 

In light of the respiratory virus plateau, the Colorado Hospital Association has deactivated its combined hospital transfer center, which makes it easier for overwhelmed pediatric hospitals to transfer patients with respiratory viruses. However, hospitals are "prepared to employ capacity management tools, including the [combined hospital transfer center," if there is another surge, the association's CEO, Jeff Tieman, told CNN.  


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