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HSC Children's Hospital seeing increase in ‘very sick’ patients

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The HSC Children’s Hospital emergency unit is seeing a surge in patients ahead of the holidays, with the hospital expecting the volume of “very sick” children to increase over time.

“HSC Children’s continues to be challenged by an increased volume of patient visits as respiratory virus season continues to circulate our communities,” said Dr. Shawn Young, chief operating officer of HSC Winnipeg.

“Over the past several days, we have also seen a large increase in the number of very sick children requiring pediatric intensive care.”

As of Thursday afternoon, the average wait time at the pediatric emergency unit was five hours.

These wait times come even though health-care staff are taking on extra patients and are working longer hours.

“I want to acknowledge how hard our staff works and I want to express my extreme gratitude for the staff,” said Dr. Patricia Birk, Shared Health’s provincial specialty lead of pediatrics and child health.

“We have a collective vision, it’s all hands on deck. We also recognize that people are very tired. We try to support them.”

According to the hospital, most children are being admitted with influenza A, but they do expect to see RSV as well.

“I would say those would be the two major viruses based on what our population data have seen up to this point,” Birk said.

Parents should contact Health Links if they aren’t sure what level of care their child may require.

“Really, it’s a determination of how sick your child is,” Birk said.

“So if your child appears to have a common cold, but is able to hydrate, eat, drink, those sorts of things, there are other options. There are family physicians, quick care clinics.”

Birk added that she recommends that everybody, both children and their families, get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu. She also advises that people wash their hands, and stay home if they’re sick.

“The one good thing is the influenza A patients we’re seeing, the vaccine has been shown to have good coverage for that particular virus,” she said.

“So again, we highly recommend getting your child vaccinated.”

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