Calgary doctors preparing for more sick kids as COVID transmission rates grow

Pediatricians in Calgary say they are bracing for an increasing number of children becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 as community transmission rates increase.

Alberta Health says 12 children under 18 have been hospitalized for COVID-19 in the province, including three in intensive care. Four of those kids are in Calgary.

“The more community dispersion we have…that’s when we’re going to see a greater number of very sick children end up in our intensive care unit, or very sick in our clinical unit,” says Dr. Michelle Bailey, a pediatrician at Alberta Children’s Hospital and chair of pediatrics at the Alberta Medical Association.

“While children have a lower percentage chance of being admitted to a hospital bed or to a pediatric ICU, when we start to see those very high numbers happen, we will see an increase in those ICU admissions if we don’t change our course. trajectory doesn’t really change,” she said.

dr. Michelle Bailey, a pediatrician at Alberta Children’s Hospital, says children should be protected from COVID-19. (Submitted by Michelle Bailey)

Measures to curb community transmission are needed to prevent more children from getting sick, Bailey says.

“This is our responsibility as a community, as a province, to actually protect our children, especially those who haven’t been vaccinated, by actually doing things to reduce the spread of communities.”

dr. Stephen Freedman, a pediatric emergency physician at Alberta Children’s Hospital and professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the University of Calgary, says the number of infections is increasing almost daily.

dr. Stephen Freedman, a professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, says they’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg right now in terms of kids getting sick with COVID. (Dr Stephen Freedman)

On average, about three children are diagnosed with COVID every day at Alberta Children’s Hospital, he says.

While kids aren’t likely to be hospitalized or end up in intensive care, Freedman says it’s about the bigger picture.

“It’s about the size of the iceberg. The bigger the iceberg, the bigger the tip of the iceberg that floats above the water. And if the iceberg is the number of children infected with COVID, we will see more children who are severely infected.” there is no doubt about that,” he said.

Resources Stretched

Emergency departments are already busy this time of year, Freedman says, and health care resources are under pressure, including children’s hospitals.

“We’ve had to allocate a lot of resources to support our adult colleagues as well, leaving a significant shortage of doctors, nurses and other support staff.”

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