Dell Children's sees record number of pediatric flu patients
So far, the flu has caused 32 deaths in Travis county. Dell Children's hospital in Austin said it is dealing with a record number of pediatric flu cases. In July, the Dell Children’s ER treated more than 8,000 children. That forced the pediatric emergency department to come up with a new plan to handle the rising number of cases.
On Monday, Jan. 29, the emergency department treated 380 kids for the flu. Doctors described that 24-hour period as an unbelievable number of patients.
Doctor Eric Higginbotham said if this virus continues to spread, the hospital will set up an overflow room to accommodate pediatric flu patients. “When we had that horrible day, it was followed by several meetings about what are those next steps that we're going to do.” Higginbotham said.
After his department treated 380 children in one day, Higginbotham said the emergency department decided they needed an emergency plan. “For us that's unbelievable volume here,” Higginbotham said.
If flu cases continue at this rate or worsen, an inpatient unit will be turned into an extension specifically for children battling the flu. “We haven't had to use that alternative care sight yet, but we have it ready if we need to. It's an additional eight beds," Higginbotham said.
The CDC has called this flu season an epidemic and doctor Higginbotham said while it is more infectious this year, the virus is actually less-deadly. “So far, there's been 53 pediatric deaths in the entirety of the U.S. When you look at the same time last year we had had 110 deaths in the U.S.,” Higginbotham said.
Higginbotham said he thinks the virus has peaked in Austin. He said since last week, the number of positive flu tests are decreasing.