Spike in RSV and other viruses is putting a strain on local doctors

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Nov. 4, 2022 at 10:24 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Doctors’ offices and hospitals are overflowing with sick children. Kids are coming down with respiratory viruses, especially RSV, at historic rates.

This is putting a strain on doctors and hospitals. Pediatric bed availability is limited and in some cases, some kids have been unable to get a hospital bed.

Doctors are seeing a lot of all kinds of viruses right now: flu, COVID, but especially RSV. RSV usually impacts children under two the most, but this season they’re seeing children all the way up to four years old being hospitalized.

Hospitals are doing all they can to get kids in, but a local pediatrician says this is the first week where they were not able to find a hospital bed for her patient.

“We tried to admit at least one child this week that had no bed in the hospital. Both Tucson’s pediatric in-patient hospital wards were full,” said pediatrician, Dr. Sandy Herron.

According to Dr. Herron, that child had to sit in the emergency room for hours instead. Seeing hospitals unable to find a bed for her patient was concerning.

″For that to happen in the beginning of November, is scary to us as pediatricians,” she said.

Tanque Verde Pediatrics is filled to the brim with patients who are coming in with RSV, COVID, the Flu or a combination or viruses.

″I had a friend of mine with her baby who was hospitalized with RSV about a week ago,” said mother Sydney Day.

Day brought her eight-month-old and three-year-old in to the pediatrician because she’s worried about how congested they are.

″I want to make sure especially for the baby that she can breathe well, and that’s harder to tell sometimes in babies compared to the three-year-old,” she explained.

RSV cases are historically high across Pima County.

Chief Epidemiologist, Mary Derby said, ″RSV cases are up for this time of the year. They’re about three and a half times higher than what we would normally see and the cases have started earlier in the season than what we would normally see.”

With these high cases, there’s concern from parents and health professionals about pediatric bed availability, especially as we head into the holidays. Despite at least one child being unable to get a bed, TMC says they do have beds available or that they will find a bed.

″Around the state there is a limited number of pediatric beds so we do sometimes have to shift in between. There are beds. It’s a matter of finding location,” said Dr. Sean Elliot, TMC’s Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist.

KOLD News 13 also reached out to Banner to ask about their pediatric bed availability, but did not hear back.

With the upcoming holidays, doctors recommend staying home when sick, washing hands thoroughly, and wearing a mask.