Lurie Children’s Hospital nearing capacity as pediatric COVID-19 cases rise

Medical Watch

Top pediatric doctors have issued a warning about kids and COVID-19 amid the growing number of cases in the Chicago area.  

Early in the pandemic, it seemed childhood COVID-19 cases were rare. As a result, very few children were hospitalized with the virus that causes the disease. 

Now, Lurie Children’s Hospital says there has been a 500% increase in children diagnosed with the coronavirus.  

If the pace keeps up — doctors at one of the city’s leading pediatric hospitals say they will not be able to care for patients adequately with COVID and other illnesses. 

“Our inpatient volumes are starting to pick up,” said Dr. Larry Kociolek, with Lurie Children’s Infectious  Diseases.

Lurie Children’s Hospital has five COVID patients currently being treated in the hospital. But the busy care provider also has children from all across the country who has more serious needs. Yet, the hospital is at 90% capacity. 

“It is approaching levels where we would need to consider modifying how we deliver care.” 

And COVID-19 is potentially compromising the ability to treat all patients.  

“We are diagnosing roughly 50 children a week with COVID. That’s compared to about five to 10 two months ago even,” Dr. Kociolek said.

If the current pace of infection and hospitalization keeps up, tough choices will have to be made. 

“That could include, for example, delaying elective surgeries. It could be partnering with other children’s hospitals to transfer patients to other hospitals,” Dr. Kociolek said.

So the message from doctors is one of caution. The red flag is for the sake of the children and the people caring for them. 

“We are still able to accommodate all children who require and patient care whether or not it’s for an injury or an illness or a surgery but we do worry that was further increases our capacity could become taxed.” 

“I am raising a red flag about the potential of us needing to take this very, very seriously for adults and adolescents to get vaccinated and for us to be very cooperative with the public health interventions that are being put forth.” 

Vaccines for children are only approved for those 12 and older. So the only armor kids have is their mask and the masks of those around them. And dr. K says he is glad kids are heading back to school where masks in Illinois are now required. 

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