Hospitals also need more specialized tubes that, with a heating element, provide a comfortable supply of warm, humidified air to small patients, keeping their airways moist so they can expel mucus, said Jean Afram, director of respiratory care at William Beaumont University Hospital in the Royal Eye.
There’s also a shortage of pulse oximeters, devices that clip onto fingers, toes and ears to measure oxygen levels in the blood frequently. Some shortage of medicines in the country, for example amoxicillinwhich treats bacterial infections that can result from an RSV infection, and liquid Tamiflu, which can help children with flu-like symptoms, also have doctors worried, said Dr. Dennis Cunningham, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Henry Ford Health.
“These are all little things that start to add up and put more pressure on health care,” he said.
Last week, the Children’s Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics asked the Biden administration declare a limited public health emergency, much like the one declared for the COVID pandemic.
“Unprecedented” rates of RSV, combined with staff shortages and mental health problems among young patients, continue to “stretch the capacity of pediatric care at the hospital and community level to breaking point,” the letter said, noting that three-quarters of US children’s hospitals are full. .
A public health emergency like this can’t lead to stockpiles when there aren’t any, Michigan doctors and supply chain experts told the Bridge. And it can’t provide permanent staff, even though the public health emergency of COVID has provided federal strike teams at several Michigan hospitals.
However, the declaration could help health systems more easily add beds, move staff and transfer patients to other facilities, even those out of state, Denenberg said.
“Quite frankly, we have a shortage of pediatric intensive care beds across the country,” he said. “We certainly don’t have enough capacity for such a crisis.”
The public health emergency also clears the way for more telemedicine visits and care from out-of-state specialists, Henry Ford’s Cunningham said.
The flu and the holidays
Despite the RSV strain, other factors have allowed Michigan to avoid further supply chain shortages — at least so far. To date, Michigan has been spared a particularly severe flu season; the state remains one of the four states where the spread of the flu continues to be “minimal,” according to the CDC.