Winnipeg Children’s Hospital continues to see high admissions for respiratory viruses

High numbers of critically ill pediatric patients are being admitted to the intensive care unit at Winnipeg’s Children’s Hospital as respiratory viruses continue to circulate in Manitoba.

There were 15 pediatric ICU patients in the hospital at Health Sciences Centre on Wednesday morning, a news release from Shared Health said Wednesday.

The normal baseline capacity for the unit is nine.

The majority of the patients were infants or toddlers experiencing severe respiratory symptoms associated with influenza A and RSV bronchiolitis.

Eleven elective surgeries have been postponed since mid-December, after HSC reduced its pediatric surgical slate to focus on emergency surgeries.

Three pediatric elective procedures were postponed within the last week.

There were 46 patients in the neonatal intensive care unit on Wednesday morning, which is below the baseline capacity. That’s a slight decrease from the 50 one week ago.

Despite the strain on the system, patient visits to the children’s emergency department are down from the record pace of November.

The department averaged 130.2 patients per day in December, compared with 170.3 in November. However, the department has seen an average of 133 patients per day for the first three days of January.

Less than 40 per cent of the pediatric patients visiting the children’s emergency department on Tuesday — 49 of 127 — had influenza or were experiencing flu-like symptoms.

In the first 30 days of December, 108 patients were hospitalized for RSV-related illnesses. Seventeen of these patients were admitted to intensive care, and almost all of them were infants and toddlers.

There were 27 patients hospitalized for RSV-related illnesses in the week of Dec. 24-30, including five who required intensive care. The province’s weekly data for the previous week was not available.

Most pediatric patients attending the emergency department are being treated and then leaving, but the acuity and level of sickness of the children being brought in for care remains very high, Shared Health said.

Of the 127 patients who visited the emergency department on Tuesday, 73 were triaged as high- to mid-acuity. Those patients require greater levels of care, which slows patient flow and impacts wait times, the news release said.

Advice for parents on how to treat a sick or injured child, as well as when and where to take a child for care, is available on the Shared Health website.