ER wait times increasing at local children’s hospitals due to surge in RSV cases

PITTSBURGH — Pediatric hospitals across the country are filling up as cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are surging, which is leading to long wait times in the emergency room.

Earlier Monday, the wait time at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh was longer than nine hours.

Children’s Hospital tells Channel 11 it’s seeing 20 to 30 cases of RSV per day, with average wait times between 3 and 4 hours.

Dr. Raymond Pitetti, Director of Emergency Operations at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, says in 2019 they only saw 5 to 10 cases a day. He says they are evaluating each child to make sure anyone with critical needs is seen first.  They haven’t opened any extra units yet, but it is in consideration.

“We are doing everything we can in the area we have. We are considering opening our tent again; we did that about a year or so ago. We wanted to have it in place, so if we needed to, we can rapidly expand.”

Pitetti says he believes RSV is hitting kids hard after years of masks protecting them while also preventing them from building immunity.

“Now you have a group of children never exposed to these viruses; they have no real immunity to them.”

If your child is in need of medical attention but it’s not critical, Pitetti encourages you go to an urgent care or your pediatrician, where the waits will be shorter, and leave Children’s care to kids in greater need.

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