Hospitals in Tarrant County are “completely full from a pediatric standpoint,” according to a Tuesday briefing from the county’s public health director.
Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja said there were 41 pediatric COVID-19 patients in Tarrant County – down from a pandemic of 48 pediatric patients a day ago.
In Tarrant County, there are a total of more than 400 pediatric hospital beds. Taneja said Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 patients has increased the hospital’s capacity.
“There is no single bed available. There is no bed available even in the children’s ICUs,” he said. “That’s very worrying, because routine things are still going on. Kids get sick, they need surgery, they have other treatments that sometimes require hospitalizations or ICUs. We are currently fully booked in Tarrant County.”
NEW: @TCPHtweets director Vinny Taneja gives his #COVID19 briefing for the commissioners of Tarrant Co.
Hospital admissions are beginning to level off, but “ICUs are a burden in the adult world,” “pediatrics is a whole different story.”
Taneja: Pediatric beds, ICUs 100% full @NBCDFW pic.twitter.com/L4NZXoxYaI
— Lili Zheng (@LiliNBC5) September 14, 2021
The trend in Tarrant County is similar to what other communities in North Texas are experiencing, Taneja said. According to the DFW Hospital Council, there are 94 pediatric COVID-19 patients in North Texas as of Tuesday. Pediatric beds are 95% full and there are no more ICU beds, an email from the municipality reads.
“In general, the picture is bleak because if a child needs care, we have to be able to provide that care and that’s difficult right now,” Taneja said.
dr. Suzi Whitworth, medical director of infectious diseases at Cook Children’s in Fort Worth, said the hospital holds regular meetings about the influx of patients and that staffing levels are constantly monitored.
“We almost always stay at capacity,” Whitworth said. “The workforce is exhausted. The number of patients we see in the hospital on my shift alone is twice as much as we would normally see with the same number of doctors.”
In terms of capacity, Whitworth said there are a number of contributing factors, but “the main reason is the influx of COVID cases.”
“At least half of what we see are teens who are eligible for vaccines. As far as I know, we don’t have a COVID-vaccinated teen in the hospital because they were sick with COVID,” Whitworth said. “We have opened a unit on the third floor in case of pop-off reasons, in case we overflow. RSV is a smaller part of that. That seems to be going better lately.”
In recent weeks, Whitworth said some surgeries deemed medically reasonable to delay have been delayed due to ICU capacity.
“If the intensive care unit is full, you cannot perform elective care surgery that requires a patient to stay in the intensive care unit for two to three nights. If that can wait until after the peak, then you should,” she said. “I’ve said this before, we’ve had a lot of kids in the hospital in the ICU just because one of their parents is on a ventilator somewhere else and the other is caring for sick children at home or is sick himself. It’s emotionally difficult to think about that.”
Whitworth reiterated the message to get vaccinated, if eligible.
“The only way we will get out of this pandemic is if everyone is vaccinated. That’s the most important thing you can do,” she said. “When you get vaccinated, you take yourself out of the group of people who are likely to get COVID and you give it to someone else. We have to stop the transmission chain.”
As of Tuesday, more than 2.4 million vaccine doses of COVID-19 have been administered in Tarrant County. The province’s vaccine dashboard is expected to provide an update on vaccination rates on Wednesday.