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Primary Children's Hospital delays non-emergency procedures due to RSV surge

A view of Primary Children's Hospital.
Intermountain Healthcare

The Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital announced Monday that the hospital has elected to delay up to 50, or about 10 percent, of non-emergency pediatric procedures and surgeries scheduled for this week. The delay is part of an effort to keep hospital beds open at the facility as the hospital sees a surge in RSV, as well as other respiratory illnesses.

Dr. Andrew Pavia is an infectious disease expert at the Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital. At an online press conference on Monday, Pavia said the RSV surge is happening on top of influenza and COVID infections.

“This has been really an unprecedented surge in RSV accompanied now, by a fairly large amount of influenza just over the last week, it's increased quite substantially and behind all this COVID is increasing slowly,” Pavia said.

As the pandemic drags on, Pavia said burnout and resignations in the medical field have made coping with the RSV surge more difficult.

“We have a staff shortage as does everybody in health care. There have been a lot of resignations, we've been going at full speed, not just for the last couple of months, but really almost for three years, and people are tired and people have left,” Pavia said.

Pavia credited Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital’s work to prepare for RSV infections, which has allowed them to keep surgeries running at full capacity up until now.

“We've seen this wave coming,” Pavia said. “And we've prepared for it in every possible way. It struck the south and the east coast before us. And we watched hospitals declare states of emergency, go into crisis standards of care, put up tents. So we had warning, and we were able to do a number of things that have really helped us prepare for it. But it has now pushed us to our limit.”

RSV is typically mild in adults, but can be particularly severe in young children. There is currently no vaccine. Pavia recommends staying home or wearing a mask in public, and limiting your time around infants if you feel sick.

More about RSV at cdc.gov/rsv

Aimee Van Tatenhove is a science reporter at UPR. She spends most of her time interviewing people doing interesting research in Utah and writing stories about wildlife, new technologies and local happenings. She is also a PhD student at Utah State University, studying white pelicans in the Great Salt Lake, so she thinks about birds a lot! She also loves fishing, skiing, baking, and gardening when she has a little free time.