Surge in respiratory viruses adding more problems to already strained hospitals

Locally and nationwide, bed capacity at hospitals is a concern.

As respiratory viruses (like the Flu and RSV) escalate to the point of needing emergency care, experts worry about where they’ll go.

“When you have very little wiggle room of intensive care beds, when you have almost all the intensive care beds that are occupied,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said pediatric hospitals are almost overwhelmed.

The Texas Hospital Association said it’s worse here in Texas.

“They’re at 91% capacity right now so that’s a challenge, and I think people are seeing that in increased wait times, difficulty in accessing services, so it’s a real challenge right now,” said Texas Hospital Association CEO and President John Hawkins.

Everyone is at risk of catching the Flu, but kids are getting hit hard.

“We’re seeing more kids getting hospitalized through the middle of November than we typically see in an entire season,” said Dr. Stan Spinner with Texas Children’s Hospital.

Adding these surges to rising costs and nursing shortages, Hawkins said hospital problems are snowballing and some are at risk of shutting down.

“When you see these fiscal headwinds that hospitals are facing right now, you’re going to see closures, potentially in rural areas. But in an urban area like Houston, you’ll see hospitals limiting service lines, limiting access points, and that will mean people have to wait longer for care or travel further to actually access that care,” Hawkins explained.

The rescue plan relies on government assistance.

“We’re going to ask the legislature to invest in the healthcare system, healthcare is infrastructure, we need to make sure they’re addressing that increased inflationary cost in the healthcare system, and we’re asking them to invest significantly in our workforce pipeline to really help build capacity in the system statewide,” Hawkins said.

At least one positive in these cases is that RSV cases seem to be leveling off, giving hope that this season’s peak may soon be in the rearview mirror.