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RSV cases continue to surge in central NY

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Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital

A surge in cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, has local health care institutions scrambling to get children treated for the respiratory virus in central New York.

At least half the patients at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse are being treated for the common childhood virus right now. Executive Director Dr. Gregory Conners said that’s prompted the hospital to expand its after-hours clinic at the Community campus site.

"We’re opening at 8 a.m. and that’s to allow more sick children to come in and get seen right away if they need to if their primary care provider can’t see them,” said Connors. “And it prevents them from going to the emergency department, which is busy enough and has some long waits."

Connors said to create more beds in the pediatric unit, some older teens are being treated on adult floors. And the overflow has jammed up other regional hospitals, that often send really sick kids to Golisano.

"In the past two months, we’ve had to defer and not be able to accept 85 children in the past couple of months,” Connors said. “And the occasional child we’ve had to transfer to another hospital because of space limitations."

Conners believes the surge in RSV is peaking now, but he’s concerned about the next wave of respiratory ailments.

“Influenza is on the rise in our community and so probably RSV will be replaced by influenza, and we’ll probably see some kids with both RSV and influenza, and of course there is still COVID out there,” he said. “So there’s a lot of viruses out there, and we’ll have one or more respiratory viruses with us for weeks to months to come.”

Overcrowding is something that’s affecting pediatric hospitals across the country, in part because of the pandemic lockdown that kept the virus at bay for many infants, who are now getting it at age two and three.

"You know the average young child gets six colds in the winter in their first couple of years of life, and we’ve sort of interfered with that, and now it’s catching up with us," said Connors.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.