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A Michigan kids’s hospital is overwhelmed with RSV and flu circumstances : NPR

At a kids’s hospital in Michigan, the employees is struggling to deal with the surge of RSV and flu circumstances in kids. Some mother and father say they’ve been turned away from emergency rooms for days.


In recent times, some U.S. hospitals have been slicing again on their capacity to deal with kids. Grownup sufferers want hospitals extra reliably and are extra worthwhile. However the present surge of RSV and flu means there simply aren’t sufficient beds for all the youngsters who want them. Michigan Radio’s Kate Wells visited a kids’s hospital in Grand Rapids the place she spoke to households who’ve spent days shuttling between pressing care and emergency rooms, simply ready for beds to open up.

KATE WELLS, BYLINE: Within the ER ready room on the Helen DeVos Kids’s Hospital, dazed-looking mother and father in winter coats are bouncing crying infants. They’re making an attempt to catch the attention of Dr. Erica Michiels like, is it our flip now?

ERICA MICHIELS: As an ER physician, I really feel like my job is to have the ability to see you whenever you want me. So when we’ve got a wait, it actually bothers me. However for proper now, we simply cannot do it another approach.

WELLS: That is the second time Caitlyn Houston has been to the ER this week. Her 7-week-old daughter Parker has RSV. Final time they acquired despatched dwelling.

CAITLYN HOUSTON: I imply, there’s so many youngsters in right here that they should take those which might be actually unhealthy. So – and even, like, two nights in the past, in the midst of the evening, it was – the ER was packed. So we have been there for, like, two hours, ready.

WELLS: Parker is now sick sufficient that the nurses advised Houston, we’re going to admit her, probably to the ICU. And instantly, Houston’s first query was, so you aren’t going to ship us dwelling once more, proper? No, they advised her. You may keep. Michigan has greater than 130 hospitals, however solely 9 of them have pediatric ICUs. And it isn’t simply beds. Hospitals in every single place have staffing shortages, too. Dr. Andrea Hadley is chief of pediatric medication right here at DeVos. She’s been getting switch requests even from out of state.

ANDREA HADLEY: I’ve had many calls are available the place they mentioned, we have known as 15 different locations, and so they’ve all mentioned no.

WELLS: They’ve made house right here by doubling up rooms with two households crammed on both facet of a makeshift partition. However they’ll solely take the sickest youngsters.

HADLEY: We have needed to say, we see you. We will help you. However we won’t convey you right here but. And that was none. We might simply take everyone.

WELLS: Inside one of many affected person rooms, Saul Botello is watching his 9-month-old son wrestle to breathe. Santi is mendacity in his mother’s arms. He is acquired an oxygen tubed taped to his little face.

He is conserving his eyes on you.

SAUL BOTELLO: I do know. I see that just a little bit.

WELLS: Yeah.

BOTELLO: I hate seeing him like this.

WELLS: Santi’s mother, Staci Rodriguez, says he has been sick for 5 days. When he stopped consuming, she took him to an pressing care.

STACI RODRIGUEZ: They only advised me it was a nasty virus and to ship him dwelling. So we did. After which I observed he was sleeping perhaps about 20 hours a day.

WELLS: She took him to the pediatrician however acquired despatched dwelling once more. Lastly, final evening his fever acquired so excessive, she took him to the ER of their small city of Shelby, Mich. The docs there mentioned Santi had RSV, and his oxygen ranges have been now dangerously low. This rural ER did not have the respiratory gear he wanted. So that they rushed him by ambulance right here to DeVos Hospital. It took an hour.

RODRIGUEZ: I believed I used to be going to have the ability to maintain him within the ambulance, which is sensible. I imply, they do should be strapped down. But it surely was simply…

WELLS: You could not maintain him.


WELLS: You needed to be separated.

RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. And fortuitously, he simply sort of stared at me the entire time after which ultimately fell asleep. However, you already know, then to get right here and to sort of have it accomplished over again…

SANTI: (Crying).

RODRIGUEZ: I do know. Yeah.

WELLS: Santi is on a feeding tube now, and they do not know how lengthy he’ll have to be right here. However with so many sick youngsters proper now, they’re grateful their child has a mattress.

For NPR Information, I am Kate Wells in Grand Rapids, Mich.

CHANG: That story got here from NPR’s partnership with Michigan Radio and Kaiser Well being Information.

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