Hospital officials: Pediatric units at capacity due to ‘tripledemic’

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Local hospital officials say their pediatric units are at capacity right now.

“As far as numbers this morning, we’re at 119% of pediatric licensed capacity,” said Dr. Maribeth Thornton, the UNMH associate chief nursing officer.

Due to that, UNMH has activated its emergency operations center – a place where they can treat overflow patients. The hospital is dealing with an influx of flu and COVID-19 cases, as well as cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV.

It has created a perfect storm for health care workers.

“We are above capacity in our children’s units and we have created additional care spaces to care for sick kids,” Thornton said. “These care spaces may not look like our traditional hospital room, but they do allow us to provide the care that is necessary for children who are hospitalized.”

Presbyterian Hospital is also at capacity when it comes to pediatric beds. Doctors from both hospitals held a news conference Monday morning to warn families about what they are seeing.

“We wanted to have this discussion to see what our hospitals, how we’re collaborating with one another and what we are doing to address this need,” said Dr. Anna Duran with UNMH.

Hospital officials urged keeping the spread of these viruses down – that means practicing normal safety measures like washing hands and disinfecting shared surfaces. They also encouraged anyone who feels sick to stay home and wear a mask around others.

Doctors also recommended getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and the flu.

For the youngest children, they urged extra caution.

“The most important thing a parent can do is really to limit anybody who is around that child if they are sick,” Duran said. “They should not be visiting that child, they should know, particularly children in the first couple weeks of their life, limits the exposure to these viruses.”

While these viruses are normal around this time of year, officials say the amount of cases is higher than usual.

“I think this is just what we’re seeing because children have not been exposed to viruses over the last, you know, two and a half years,” Duran said.

As colder months approach, metro health officials said they are constantly meeting and working with the state to navigate the “tripledemic.”