Caroline MacGregor Published

As RSV Numbers Rise, State’s Pediatric Bed Capacity Fills Up

A doctor listens to a child's breathing.

Children’s hospitals in neighboring states are experiencing a spike in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases, and hospitals in West Virginia expect to quickly follow suit.

The virus is a common, but contagious virus that infects the respiratory tract. Symptoms include a runny nose, decrease in appetite, and a cough that can progress to wheezing.

West Virginia Health Association President and CEO Jim Kaufman said the states’ three main children’s hospitals are reporting a noticeable uptick in numbers.

Kaufman said WVU Children’s Hospital in Morgantown, Charleston Area Medical Center Women and Children’s Hospital and Hoops Family Children’s Hospital in Huntington are all feeling the strain as pediatric hospital bed capacity fills up.

“Right now the latest numbers I have is that 90 percent of our pediatric intensive beds are full,” Kaufman said. “So we still have some capacity; however, we are very concerned about the uptick in which you are seeing around the country, and we do know that likewise it’s the same for West Virginia.”

Kaufman said the state currently has 4200 staffed adult hospital beds, 350 staffed pediatric beds and approximately 125 pediatric ICU beds.

He said hospitals are trying to free up resources by deferring non-emergency procedures that require an in-patient stay, and moving older children to adult units where appropriate to free up beds where possible.

As hospitals try to anticipate needs, he said they are communicating and coordinating with other children’s hospitals and health providers, including out-of-state facilities.

Kaufman said with West Virginia’s pediatric hospitals facing both bed and staff shortages, it’s critical the public does their part to help hospitals facing an influx of very young patients.

“That is why we are asking everyone if they are able to get a flu shot  and their covid booster to please do so,” Kaufman said. “Some people will say, ‘Oh – I can still get the virus,’ that’s true, but you’re less likely to be hospitalized, and that’s a critical part, making sure that we have that capacity for patients who need it.”