FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Some children’s hospitals around the nation have begun to reach capacity, but Northwest Arkansas children’s hospitals say that they are busy but still managing the situation effectively.
“Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Arkansas Children’s Northwest continue to see high volumes of respiratory illnesses among kids in our state, especially in our ERs and clinics,” said Dr. Rick Barr, EVP and Chief Clinical and Academic Officer for the Arkansas Children’s health system. “Some of these cases are RSV, but many of them are flu. While much of the illness we’re seeing is manageable at home under the guidance of a pediatrician, there are a handful of severe cases in which children are requiring oxygen and hospital stays — even among children who were previously healthy.”
Something different this year is how early respiratory illnesses are spreading in the season. Barr said normally this kind of volume is expected around January and February. This time around, it started in September and October.
While Arkansas Children’s has been able to keep up with the need, other states have struggled, requesting patient transfers to Arkansas.
“We’ve been able to accept quite a few kids from Oklahoma, Louisiana or Texas where in whatever region of that state they’ve exceeded their pediatric intensive care capacity. We work closely with other children’s hospitals in other states,” said Barr.
Arkansas Children’s Northwest has also had to transfer patients but within the state.
“Arkansas Children’s Northwest, our second facility, has also been very busy, but they have a much smaller inpatient unit. If there’s concern about capacity, we’ll take kids here in Little Rock because we have more beds here and can expand our services a little easier,” said Barr.
Dr. Barr added that while both hospitals remain busy, they have the resources to continue handling the situation through “this high-volume respiratory season.”
“Our teams are working diligently to ensure families receive excellent and safe care as they recover and look forward to the holidays,” he said.
Brooke Morgan with the Washington Regional Medical System said they are seeing a higher number of patients right now, but they continue having the resources needed to service the community.
Mercy Hospital Northwest issued a statement as well, acknowledging space is running low.
“We are still seeing a high patient volume related to the flu and other upper respiratory illnesses. As of today, we have not seen any fluctuations or decline. The hospital is currently at capacity and holding,” said Chief Nursing Officer with Mercy Hospital Northwest, Jacqueline Truesdale.