Oklahoma Doctors and Officials Are Being Proactive as RSV Cases Double in The Last Month

KOKH-OKC - November 2, 2022 3:00 pm

Oklahoma lawmakers and health professionals are being proactive about a virus infecting children that’s spreading across the state.

The state health department is now temporarily allowing adult hospital beds to be used for pediatric care.

Doctors say kids under two-years-old are most at risk, along with children with lung disease, heart disease and other immune system issues.

While lawmakers reassure that we’re not in a crisis phase yet, they added that the number of infected kids is climbing, even doubling from September to October.

“We are struggling. We have calls from all hospitals around the state with kids who need care,” Dr. Cameron Mantor, the Chief Medical Officer at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital said. “This is clearly putting stress on our system. It’s making us have to consider cancelling elective surgical cases because we have kids that have respiratory diseases that need to be admitted to the hospital, and we simply don’t have room for that currently.”

In a press conference Tuesday, Dr. Mantor laid out the numbers, speaking on hospitals already becoming overwhelmed with patients.

“We have about 275 children’s beds in the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital. We have had several points over the last couple of weeks at which every single bed had a patient,” Dr. Mantor said.

According to doctors, RSV is spreading through Oklahoma earlier than usual, with cases showing up the last week of September instead of November.

The virus shows up as common flu symptoms such as fever, runny nose, and sometimes respiratory issues.

“Almost 50% of the kids that are admitted to Oklahoma Children’s Hospital on the general medicine team are admitted because of respiratory problems,” Dr. Mantor said. “About 10% are flu, but 40% are RSV. So as you heard earlier there’s no question that the number of cases is going up substantially.”

The state is trying to keep up with patient care by allowing hospitals to make use of every bed.

“This is really about taking the existing beds and being able to temporarily flex their designation on those beds,” Keith Reed, the Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Health said. “In other words, if their license says they have 20 pediatric beds and 80 adult beds, this would allow them flexibility with those numbers and they could shift more to a 70/30, or 60/40.”

Doctors said if your child has flu symptoms that won’t go away or are getting worse, you should talk to your pediatrician and potentially get them emergency care.

There’s no treatment for this virus, but doctors at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital meet twice a day every day to make sure they have a plan to take care of your child.

For more information on RSV, you can head to the state’s website here.


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