Rising RSV cases threaten to overwhelm hospitals in our area, nationwide

August 1, 2023

A surge in pediatric RSV cases is overwhelming hospitals in our area and across the country.


A surge in pediatric RSV cases is overwhelming hospitals in our area and across the country.

CBS2's John Dias looked into what's driving these numbers and what experts say hospitals need to do as we head further into winter.

Doctors are warning parents that pediatric RSV cases are on the rise, and this may just be the beginning.

"I do expect to see an uptick as we enter the holidays and into the new year, unfortunately," said Dr. Tyler Orehek, President of Airgle Corp. North America.

Orehek, a physician and air quality expert, says these types of pathogens thrive in colder months. So moving forward, it's important for all hospitals and medical facilities to monitor the air quality for patients as the risk for RSV continues to grow.

"With airborne pathogens being as small as they are, they can remain airborne for incredible long periods of time. Not just hours, but even they can stay suspended in the air for days," Orehek said. "Traditional filtration means is simply inadequate."

Some hospitals are already reaching their breaking point. Cohen Children's Medical Center at Northwell Health says it's seen an almost 50% increase in admissions in recent weeks, now seeing 300 a day, and forced to take around 75 beds away from adults to give to children.

"It's really been an issue in the hospital itself," Dr. Charles Schleien, chair of pediatric services at Northwell Health, told CBS2.

The chair of pediatrics said in his nearly 40 years of practicing, he's never seen a surge like this and believes it may be a consequence from the precautions we took during the COVID pandemic.

"Babies were not out, we were distancing, wearing masks and the rest. There was probably no buildup of antibodies," Schleien said.

Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on the Department of Health and Human Services to intervene, saying hospitals, especially in upstate New York, need extra support. He wants the feds to make arrangements right now, possibly pulling professionals from other states to help out.

"They can allow Pennsylvania doctors or nurse to come to New York hospitals while the surge is going on and move across state lines," said Schumer.

Doctors say testing is key, and not everyone who gets RSV needs to be hospitalized. That's only the severe cases.