Pediatric Urgent Care centers packed with children during tough respiratory virus season

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Urgent Care Centers are overwhelmed with young kids coming in with RSV and flu and health officials said this is the highest number of cases they’ve seen in the last decade.

Children with the respiratory virus called RSV are filling up urgent cares and families are waiting hours for their kids to be seen, while staff at these facilities are doing the best they can to keep up with demand.

“I just came out here to get my son checked out for strep, or flu or RSV or Covid has been sick for a few days now. Fever, cough, no appetite, no sleeping or eating,” mom Teresa Sheba said.

Sheba and her 12-year-old son Joe spent the day waiting for a test after Joe has been sick for several days and they aren’t the only one’s struggling to find help.

“Pediatrician offices are jam-packed, even urgent cares,” Sheba said. “I came in and had to wait three hours to be seen and every place is just swamped. People are driving everywhere to get to an urgent care that they can get into.”

With a surge of RSV cases in Monroe County, providers at emergency departments, urgent care centers, and pediatricians’ offices are trying their best to keep up with the high volume of patients.

“This volume that we’ve seen is almost like pandemic volume,” Chrysa Charno, CEO and Clinical Director at Acute Kids Urgent Care said. “We are seeing on the upwards of 50 kids a day coming in for care. They can’t receive it anywhere else.”

Since the beginning of October, RSV has led to 238 people being hospitalized and two deaths in Monroe County.

“We’re seeing the whole gamut,” Charno said. “We’re seeing little tiny ones that come in with RSV and of course, we have more concern for the little ones that can’t clear all that fluid that comes with that virus and the coughing and so forth, all the way up to teenagers, which are suffering from influenza.”

Health leaders said one of the main reasons for the spike is that during the pandemic, many of us took extra precautions and as a result, RSV, the flu, and other illnesses essentially disappeared for a few years and families are now feeling the impact.

“He’s going to be missing like two or three days of school this week,” Sheba said. “I just keep telling him to keep drinking fluids and I just feel bad that the kids have to keep getting sick.”

URMC leaders said they’re seeing 35 to 40 percent of patients in the pediatric emergency department right now and they don’t think they have seen the peak of these illnesses yet.

Charno said you do have options if your child is sick, the first step is to call your pediatrician’s office so they can provide the right pathway for care and if that doesn’t work out, the next step is to go to a pediatric urgent care. You learn more about protecting your family from RSV on the CDC’s website.

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