'Every hospital that does pediatric care is saturated': Hospitals grapple with volume surges

Hospitals across the U.S. are reinstating mask mandates and opening up additional units as respiratory virus metrics continue to climb and volumes surge. 

More than 44,000 flu and COVID-19 patients were admitted to hospitals for the week ending Dec. 23, with experts expecting larger increases over the next few weeks in the wake of holiday gatherings. Emergency departments are seeing especially high demand, with nearly 236,000 combined visits for COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus for the week ending Dec. 30. 

Influenza currently accounts for the most ED visits, while COVID-19 remains the main driver of hospitalizations. 

Overall, hospitalization rates are highest among children under 4 and adults 65 and older. 

To grapple with an influx of patients, Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, has opened up a second unit that was previously being renovated. It recently saw more than 600 patients in its ERs and urgent care centers in a 24-hour period. 

"Sometimes we have kids who are waiting to go to our ICUs who are waiting in the emergency room because we do not have any beds available," Laura Romano, DO, a hospitalist at Cook Children's, told CBS News in a Jan. 3 report. 

In Minnesota, hospital officials have been holding coordination calls several times a week for the past month to streamline triage efforts and determine which facilities have open pediatric beds, John Hick, MD, an emergency physician with Minneapolis-based Hennepin Healthcare, told The Washington Post. 

“Every hospital that does pediatric care is saturated,” Dr. Hick told the news outlet, adding that more than half of patients on his last shift before Christmas had COVID-19 or flu. 

Hennepin Healthcare is now among dozens of hospitals and health systems that have reinstated mask mandates in recent weeks. 

On Jan. 2, Massachusetts' largest health system, Somerville-based Mass General Brigham, began requiring staff who interact with patients to wear masks, CBS News reported. The decision to reintroduce masking is based on a previously implemented policy that said masks will be required when more than 2.85% of patients have respiratory virus symptoms. 

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars