dr. Diane Arnaout, a pediatrician at the Cook Children’s Forest Park clinic in Fort Worth, published an essay Thursday sharing what doctors are seeing in area children’s hospitals as the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Arnaout avoided the much-discussed need to add staff through travel nurses, instead focusing on the number of people seeking medical attention in area hospitals and emergency care centers. In conversations with her colleagues, Arnaout confirmed what has been reported in recent days and weeks – that there is an influx of patients in hospitals in the region, including pediatric hospitals, that is unsustainable, but can be limited.
On Tuesday, Arnaout’s employer said they were making changes to the region’s Urgent Care Centers regarding hours and online check-ins due to a record number of patients. Arnaout spoke with Dr. Kara Starnes, medical director of the company’s emergency care centers, who said they saw more patients every day during the pandemic last summer than in a week.
“This is an indication of the impact that the delta variant of SARS-CoV2 is having on our children. We are doing our very best in the UCCs to deliver on Cook Children’s promise to every patient who comes into our doors, but there are more patients than we can handle and our staff is exhausted,” Starnes tells Arnaout.
The hospital said in a statement on Tuesday that the number of patients in urgent care centers rose, with more than 900 patients seen on Sunday and a further 1,000 patients registered on Monday. The average number of patients normally seen in the emergency room was about 600.
Arnaout said she also spoke with Dr. Corwin Warmink, director of the emergency department at the main hospital in downtown Fort Worth, said they saw 587 patients in the emergency room on Monday — or a new patient every 2.5 minutes for 24 hours at a time.
It’s not just COVID-19 that pushes parents to take their kids to the hospital. Arnaout said: “Over the past few weeks, capacity has been limited with RSV, COVID-19 and other illnesses and injuries.”
If your child has been exposed to COVID-19 but is asymptomatic, Arnaout shared some practical advice for parents.
“If your child is exposed to COVID, but is feeling well, don’t panic. I wouldn’t run to the emergency room or emergency room,” Arnaout wrote. “I would make an appointment with your pediatrician, in person or virtually, and schedule a test 3-5 days after exposure. You can also consider testing at home.”
If your child is COVID-19 positive, but is drinking well, urinating and breathing normally, and has not had a fever for more than five days and seems to be feeling fine, Arnaout said he should monitor them closely and see your pediatrician. informed of any changes.
Arnaout then echoed the message that so many health officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have shared for more than a year: Wearing a mask helps prevent the spread of the virus and is recommended for anyone who has not been vaccinated.
“Masking your child protects others – absolutely. But it also protects your child. I strongly recommend that you send your children to school with a mask,” Arnaout said.
Arnaout’s message was published on Checkup Newsroom, Cook Children’s Health Care System’s public site for sharing news about children’s health and wellbeing. To read the doctor’s essay and see other recommended small changes that can be made to keep children safe, click here.