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BC Children's Hospital seeing up to 150 emergency department visits per day

BC Children's Hospital has confirmed it's seeing more visits to the emergency department, averaging up to 150 per day. This comes as the hospital prepares for an influx of patients during the upcoming flu season.

In an email to CTV News, the hospital’s chief operating officer Sarah Bell said prior to April 2021, there were 135 visits per day to the ED. It’s now averaging 142 to 150 visits per day, an increase of 20 per cent compared to this time last year.

“We are beginning to see an increase in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases, which is expected based upon trends we are seeing from other parts of Canada and across the globe,” Bell wrote, adding that while the rate is relatively low, the hospital has set up an Emergency Operations Centre.

“Activating an EOC is a frequently used practice to proactively manage patient access and flow at virtually all acute-care facilities,” Bell said.

Cases of RSV are growing steadily across the country, and appearing earlier, according to Dr. Pascal Lavoie, a professor of pediatrics at UBC and neonatologist at BC Children's Hospital.

“We have seen RSV cases increase in B.C. across the province for the last two weeks, which is a little bit earlier than we normally see,” Lavoie said. “Normally, the viral season starts mid-to-end of November. This year it’s a couple of weeks earlier.”

Cases are also appearing frequently in children. Lavoie said his research shows this is mostly due to a lack of exposure to viruses during the pandemic.

“We could detect that we lost some immunity at the population level, and that has made older kids more susceptible to these respiratory infections,” he said, adding that most infections are mild.

RSV is a very common infection and Lavoie said it can mostly appear as nasal congestion, but that can be very serious for infants.

“Particularly those that are less than six months (old) because their airways are small, they may sometimes need to be admitted to a hospital while they go through this and clear the virus on their own, and sometimes needing a little bit of oxygen,” he said.

A surge in infections has already forced changes in Ontario. Intensive care patients ages 14 and older there can now be admitted to adult ICU beds to help create capacity at children's hospitals. 

When asked if B.C. would follow suit, Health Minister Adrian Dix said: “We’re not seeing that situation yet at (BC) Children’s (Hospital), but we’re preparing, obviously.” Top Stories

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