Behind-the-scenes look at New York hospital battling RSV surge

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ByMike Marza via WABC logo
Thursday, November 3, 2022
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Mike Marza has more as hospitals in our area and across the nation battle an RSV surge.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The demand for pediatric beds is increasing as children have been battling respiratory infections across the country, including in the Tri-State.

As of Wednesday morning, 17 states and Washington D.C. have more than 80% of their pediatric beds being used. In Connecticut, it is at 90%, and 70% in New Jersey.

And cases are continuing to rise in New York.

Eyewitness News is getting a look inside one hospital in New York that is battling a huge demand for pediatric beds.

A 3-year-old patient named Ella has been in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Cohen Children's Medical Center since Sunday.

She has RSV and rhinovirus and she's receiving breathing support.

The hospital's pediatric ICU is currently working at greater than 100% capacity and the hospital has been at or above capacity for weeks. The staff is working extra shifts.

As of Monday, the pediatric hospital bed occupancy across the nation is at the highest level in two years. About 76% of the nation's 40,000 pediatric hospital beds were full.

In California, Orange County has declared a health emergency as they are overwhelmed by rising cases of pediatric respiratory illnesses.

Health experts are calling the amount of RSV cases there and at this time unprecedented.

"The numbers have really shot up significantly in the last few weeks more of them may experience problems like bronchiolitis or pneumonia, that require them to be hospitalized and perhaps end up in the ICU," Dr. Jasjit Singh said.

In Michigan, Corewell Health East reports a 777% increase in RSV cases since September.

Mother of three, Sarah Walker, says when her toddler struggled to catch a breath, she was rushed to the ER.

She said her toddler's breathing seemed to be much more labored, her breath was more rapid. Her 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with RSV.

"She was on oxygen through the night, they gave her a few rounds of steroids and of course a lot of breathing treatments," Walker said.

There was some encouraging news this week. For the future, Pfizer is saying its vaccine against the respiratory virus RSV is safe for pregnant women and effective in helping protect their babies.

The vaccine would be given to expecting mothers in the late second to the third trimester in one shot.

They would then pass the protective antibodies to their babies, but if authorized it wouldn't be available until next year.

ALSO READ | Doctor discusses keeping children out of hospitals, protecting them against RSV

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