Local hospitals at capacity as cases of RSV and other viruses rise

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 6:52 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Cases of RSV are eight times higher than the five-year average in Pima County. RSV is a respiratory virus that typically has the biggest impact on young children and places like schools and daycare centers can be super spreaders.

It’s already an aggressively bad year for RSV and local hospitals are feeling the impact.

There’s a lot of concern that cases of RSV will rise again with the upcoming holidays. But overall, they’re worried about pediatric bed availability because there is a limited number of beds. Right now, Banner is running at capacity when it comes to pediatric beds.

“We are moving patients as quick as we can. We do have patients boarding in our emergency room as well,” said Dr. Chan Lowe, Division Chief of pediatric hospital medicine at Banner UMC.

Right now, hospitals in Southern Arizona are working to stay above water.

“We’re seeing high volumes of referrals from across southern Arizona coming into town, so we’re trying to get patients in, get them better, and get them home as quick as we can,” Lowe said.

There’s a historic influx in respiratory illness, including COVID, the flu, and RSV. There are tried and true vaccines and medications for COVID and the flu, but RSV is a different story.

“Unfortunately there’s not good medicines to try and help make RSV better faster, so, in that regard we’re limited from lack of available medications that exist,” he explained.

Though RSV is rarely fatal, it’s highly contagious. Schools and daycares can be super spreader locations.

“We actually see a lot of families because they tell us that their daycare center is closed. Especially the ones that go to large centers, spread happens really fast,” said Rosalind Prather, co-director of Trusting Connections and Timeless Play.

Trusting Connections is seeing an increase of families utilizing their nannies because so many children are getting sick and parents still have to work. They also have Timeless Play which is similar to a daycare service. They’ve ramped up their cleaning efforts and mitigation strategies to keep RSV and other viruses at bay.

“We’ve been really lucky. It’s not that it hasn’t been affecting us, but we do so many things and are so particular about things, like making sure kids are washing their hands immediately upon entering,” she said.

They also require that their staff wash their hands and sanitize every 30 minutes just in case any germs slip through.

Because there is no vaccine against RSV, things like washing your hands frequently and staying home when you’re sick are some of the only things you can do to protect yourself, your kids, and others in the community from the spread.