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Surging RSV cases overwhelming area hospitals

Infant in intensive care
Infant in intensive care

The Region 6 Healthcare Coalition is warning rising cases of RSV in children are overwhelming pediatric hospitals across West Michigan

“We’re seeing a lot of kids coming into the emergency departments with respiratory complaints.”

Dr. Jerry Evans is Medical Director for the Region 6 Healthcare Coalition. It comprises 13 west Michigan counties.

“Our pediatric hospitals in the state of Michigan are full. And they’re full of RSV cases and a number of other things, but RSV primarily. And what that’s doing is, it’s causing a backup into other hospitals”

RSV is Respiratory Syncytial Virus is highly contagious. It starts out like a cold: runny nose, cough, congestion. Most kids can handle it, but the youngest, less than one year of age, can struggle to breath.

Grand Rapids’ Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is at or near capacity. Dr. Evans explains it’s currently admitting only the worst of the worst cases that may need a ventilator or other specialized treatment.

“What that’s forcing our smaller hospitals to do is to hold patients for a much longer time, and I’m not just saying smaller, but most hospitals don’t admit kids anymore for respiratory problems. So, we’re holding kids for longer periods than we normally do. And that’s an unusual situation right now, and it’s a serious situation because the number of kids is still going up.”

Dr. Evans is warning the public emergency, urgent and primary care wait times will increase as RSV cases continue to spike along with the beginning of seasonal influenza and COVID cases. Evans estimates the RSV surge could last up to 10 weeks.