OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma’s top health officials sounded the alarm Tuesday on RSV cases rising in the state as families across Oklahoma continue to deal with the virus.
“We wanted to be proactive instead of reactive,” said Sen. Paul Rosino, R-Oklahoma City.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus, better known as RSV, is surging in the Sooner State.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Cameron Mantor, with OU Children’s Hospital, said about 50 percent of their current patients are in for respiratory issues. About 40 percent of those patients have RSV.
“Kids under two years of age are most at risk, but also children with lung disease, heart disease or immunocompromised patients,” Mantor said.
Mantor said symptoms are common with runny nose, cough, fever and trouble breathing.
However, he said it can be hard for parents to decide if it is something they need to worry about.
He said if symptoms do not improve in 5 to 7 days, blueness forms around their lips, breathing troubles persist, or if they’re having trouble keeping down fluids and staying hydrated, it’s time to get help.
“We do have kids in the hospital that are in the ICU with RSV because of the severity of their illness,” Mantor said.
With staffing issues still a problem, Mantor said it has put a strain on the system.
There are about 275 children’s beds at OU Children’s Hospital.
Mantor said they have had several points over the past couple of weeks in which every single bed had a patient and their 26-bed emergency room had between 10 and 15 patients waiting to be admitted.
He said RSV has only added to the issue as patients also come in for other health issues.
“So we’re trying to come up with ways where we can decompress our emergency room,” Mantor said. “If we can find staff and physicians, then perhaps we can take patients that are waiting in the emergency room to be admitted, put them up there until there is a team space available.”
Mantor said they have considered canceling elective surgeries and have also gotten calls from hospitals around the state trying to get kids help. They have even had to send kids out of state.
Commissioner of Health with the Oklahoma State Department of Health Keith Reed said they are temporarily flexing bed designations so hospitals can have the resources to care for patients based on a certain hospitals situation. They also said OU Children’s Hospital is not the only one dealing with this.
“This is part of our ongoing efforts to monitor the needs of our health care system to ensure they are equipped to serve Oklahoma’s children and their families,” Reed said.