Rising RSV cases putting stress on hospitals

MEDFORD, Ore.– Around the country and here in Southern Oregon, hospitals are seeing a rise in respiratory virus infections, including RSV.

A representative from Asante said its seeing double the amount of pediatric patients, partially due to an increase in RSV cases.

Just yesterday, Governor Brown issued an executive order to help hospitals address the outbreak, but not without push back from the state’s largest nursing union.

Medical Director Mona McArdle from Valley Immediate care said, “a lot of kids are getting it, almost all at once.”

Respiratory Syncytial Virus typically affects young children and older adults every fall and winter.

But this year, hospitals across the country and here locally are seeing unprecedented numbers of patients.

Asante’s Children’s and Respiratory Director Sarah Hillyer said, “typically we will see around six pediatric patients admitted a day at Asante, and currently we have an average of 10 patients admitted per day in our pediatric department.”

The ONA said many hospitals are struggling with a lack of beds and staff because of the increase in patients.

This is all on top of an already difficult staffing crisis and more patients in beds over the last few years.

McArdle said, “the hospitals were already pushed to their edge with the number of patients they have and just adding a huge flux of patients either in the ER or ones having to be admitted is just extra, extra burden.”

Asante said parents shouldn’t worry about a lack of care if their child gets sick.

Hillyer said they have surge plans in place that help them stay prepared.

“Our experience over the last few years with both pediatric and adult patient volume surges has really prepared us to be able to accommodate these,” she said.

Valley Immediate Care said preventing the spread of RSV includes some of the same precautions as Covid.

The difference between the two is RSV is able to stay on surfaces longer.

McArdle said, “if you’re sick, don’t go out, or if you’re sick, mask up and realize those young kids are vulnerable.”

Asante said RSV is mainly affecting kids between one month and four years old.

Valley Immediate Care said symptoms in kids may include not eating and drinking or a severe cold.

McArdle said, “it’s important to know that our medical community is there, and we’ll adapt to it, but, anything we can do to prevent it.”

The governor’s order will make it easier for hospitals to staff beds for children and allow them to draw from a pool of medical volunteer nurses and doctors.

A representative from the ONA said the OHA could have been more proactive about preventing the spread of RSV.

He said frontline nurses are already stretched-thin and this surge of patients only makes their job more difficult.

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NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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