The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association are calling on the Biden administration to declare an emergency to support a national response to an “alarming rise in pediatric respiratory illnesses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza.”
The organizations say they sent a letter to Biden and Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra this week as “[s]Significant capacity issues in pediatric hospitals and communities require flexibilities that can only be provided through a formal emergency declaration from the President and HHS Secretary.
“President Biden and Secretary Becerra have been invaluable leaders to children’s hospitals across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we implore them to renew their commitment to pediatric healthcare and provide us with the resources necessary to support the ongoing RSV – and flu surge to control the ongoing mental health emergency of children,” CHA CEO Mark Wietecha said in a statement. “Our system has reached its limits and without immediate attention the crisis will only worsen.”
The organizations say emergency declarations “would allow for the waiver of certain Medicare, Medicaid, or Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP) program requirements so that hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers can share resources in a coordinated effort to care for their community and access.” to have emergency funding to keep up with growing demands, particularly those related to workforce support.”
IN BOSTON, RSV CASES CREATE A ‘CAPACITY DISASTER’ FOR A HOSPITAL
Read the letter:
AAP CEO Mark Del Monte called the requests “urgent” because of the ongoing “crisis unfolding across the country.”
“The letter also calls on the administration to mitigate shortages of supplies, equipment and drugs that also threaten the ability to provide consistent and reliable care to pediatric patients,” the AAP said.
RSV is described as a very common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most people recover within two weeks — but RSV can be serious, especially for the very young or very old, and those with compromised immune systems.
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh has set up a tent outside its facility to accommodate the influx of young patients.
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“In the last six to eight weeks – maybe even a little bit more – we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of children coming into our emergency department and the vast majority of them come in with respiratory illnesses and many of them have RSV as the virus , which is triggering her respiratory illness,” said Raymond Pitetti, director of the emergency department, in a video posted to Twitter.
“The tent is a space that gives us eight to 10 more beds…if we see a bigger surge throughout the day and we have the resources to do it, we will open the tent,” he added.