Broward Health forced to open overflow ICU units because of child respiratory illness surge

Medical community wants parents to be prepared and know what to look for

Doctors issued a warning Tuesday as the virus that affects children is spreading rapidly across the country. “We’re doing this not to alarm the community. Just to give you a heads up that this is going on and you need to be prepared,” says HecAt Broward Health Medical Center, doctors are seeing more admissions of children with Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV.

Usually, there’s a virus that appears as a common cold, but across the country, there is a spike of cases of a more serious virus and doctors say they want parents to be aware what to look for.

Doctors issued a warning Tuesday as the virus that affects children is spreading rapidly across the country.

“We’re doing this not to alarm the community. Just to give you a heads up that this is going on and you need to be prepared,” says Hector Rodriguez-Cortes, M.D., Chair of Pediatrics at Broward Health Medical Center.

It’s called the Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV.

RSV usually causes symptoms of the common cold, which include runny nose, congestion, a fever, but right now, hospitals are seeing high numbers of pediatric patients with more significant symptoms.

In fact, in the last 48 hours, Broward Health’s Pediatric ICU began filling up with them.

“We’ve had an influx of patients coming in and we have had to open up overflow areas,” says Laurie Garcia, Broward Health Pediatric ICU Nurse Manager.

Doctors say for most kids, RSV is not a big deal and would only require home care.

“The viruses that we are seeing here is a virus normally you’d see every day but we’ve seen this surge,” says Rodriguez-Cortes. “What we’re seeing here is the patients have progressed to a level where it requires great care and some of them have to require intensive care management,” he says.

For patients with cardiac or respiratory conditions, or who are otherwise immune-compromised, the symptoms can become more severe, and require hospitalization.

“Mainly what we do is we’re just supportive care when they come in with these viruses. If they need oxygen, Tylenol, Motrin for the fever, just help keep them comfortable and support their respiratory symptoms as they happen,” says Garcia.

Doctors say there are a number of reasons the spike could be happening, but one is mask-wearing during the pandemic. Because of these extra precautions in the last few years, there has been a decrease in RSV cases.

“What we’re seeing here is the patients have progressed to a level where it requires great care and some of them have to require intensive care management,” says Rodriguez-Cortes.


About the Author:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.