PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Hasbro Children’s Hospital is experiencing a surge in patients suffering from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Dr. Rishi Lulla tells 12 News that Hasbro is currently operating at 115% capacity.
Lulla said the hospital is also seeing a higher than average number of emergency room visits, most of which can be attributed to RSV.
RSV is currently “rampant” in Rhode Island, according to Lulla, and he believes the pandemic is partially to blame.
“We had to take a lot of mitigation measures, including masking and social distancing,” Lulla explained. “While at the time that was extremely critical for us to save lives … it also resulted in our children being exposed to less viruses that they would’ve normally been exposed to.”
“What we’re seeing now is the impact of having decreased immunity over the last couple of years,” he added.
Lulla said the surge in RSV cases isn’t unique to Rhode Island. Children’s hospitals across the country are also inundated with patients.
“In short, the demand for care exceeds the supply of not only staff but also physical space,” he said. “The demand for pediatric care right now is higher than it has ever been.”
Lulla explained that RSV is a respiratory infection that’s common in children, with most being exposed to the virus by the age of three.
“Most kids are going to have a very mild illness that could include a runny nose, cough and fever,” Lulla said. “What we really worry about are patients who are developing respiratory distress.”
Lulla said infants and young children, especially those with chronic illnesses, are prone to severe infection that could develop into bronchiolitis or pneumonia.
With pediatric hospitals across the country inundated with RSV patients, Lulla encouraged parents to speak with their pediatrician before rushing their child to the emergency room.
But he also reiterated that parents should seek medical attention immediately if their child is having trouble breathing.