Connecticut Children’s Medical Center

Spike in Respiratory Illnesses Putting Strain on Connecticut Children's

Connecticut Children's is discussing plans to use auxiliary resources through both the National Guard and State of Connecticut, assuming cases continue to rise.

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In recent weeks, Connecticut has seen a surge in respiratory illnesses among children, and it’s starting to put a strain on hospitals.

“The melting pot of what we’ve seen over the last couple of years is going to breed what we see now,” said Jay Paris, of Hartford.

Respiratory illness in children is on the rise.

“Certainly in the northeast, I think this is unprecedented. We’ve never seen this before, and it’s creating challenges,” said Dr. Juan Salazar, executive vice president and physician-in-chief at Connecticut Children’s.

And for Noemi Rodriguez, that’s reason for concern.

“My grandson has very bad asthma, so he’s having asthma very constantly. Lately, the last one he had two asthma attacks, so we have to be constantly taking him to the doctor and giving him therapy,” Rodriguez said.

Over the last couple weeks, respiratory syncytial virus cases in children, better known as RSV, have flooded Connecticut Children’s.

“Because they’re all coming at such high numbers, it’s creating a challenge for us to be able to have everyone hospitalized who needs to be hospitalized in the way we normally do it,” Salazar said.

As a result, Connecticut Children’s has begun using temporary units for care, and Salazar said that if cases go much higher, the hospital is discussing plans to use auxiliary resources through both the state and National Guard.

“They were great during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic for the adult hospitals, this may be a time where the children’s hospitals are in need of their services,” Salazar said.

In a statement, the Connecticut Department of Public Health said they have “deployed a team to review the situation at Connecticut Children’s” in search of a solution.

According to Salazar, one reason for the spike has to do with precautions taken during the pandemic, which he believes led to weakened immunity when exposed to other viruses.

“We protected ourselves by social distancing and masking,” Salazar said. “I think now we’re seeing the effect of what we did for two and half years, which was needed, absolutely needed, but we’re paying a price in terms of the recurrence of respiratory disease.”

Salazar added that so far, those in need have been able to receive care, but with flu season now here, the best way to help preserve resources is to get a vaccine as soon as possible.

DPH officials said the spread of respiratory viruses like RSV can be prevented through handwashing, staying home when sick and wearing a mask if you have any symptoms.

Health officials also said it's important for children to get vaccinated against influenza and COVID-19.

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