COVID-19′s impact on the children’s hospital in Savannah

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 6:10 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - While people going to the ER has increased, so has the number of hospitalizations. As the Delta variant continue to impact our community and we see cases of COVID-19 increase, doctors at the Dwain and Cynthia Willet Children’s Hospital of Savannah say they are seeing more pediatric patients.

“Our total number of hospitalizations in our hospital right now is about 108, only five of those are pediatric patients. So, compared to adults it is a small number and I am very thankful for that. The challenge is that we’re a very busy children’s hospital now with health conditions unrelated to COVID-19 so any increase in COVID-19 patients is felt,” Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stephen Thacker said.

Dr. Thacker says two months ago it was typical for them to have 0-1 COVID positive pediatric patients. He says all the children they are seeing are unvaccinated and those most at risk have underlying health conditions. The children’s hospital opened just five months ago and already leaders say they are seeing a high volume of patients.

“So, I think it’s really challenged us to look at things a little bit differently and so you know we knew when built the building this was what we built the building for we want to be here for the community to care for the kids that are here I don’t know that we expected this high of an increase this drastically,” Assistant Chief Nursing Officer Heather Newsome said.

Leaders say in addition to COVID they are seeing patients with respiratory illness, surgeries and more.

“We are running at capacity, if you will, so we have 50 inpatient beds here. We, for the last week, have been anywhere between 40-50 patients so we are staying full. I will tell you that we have been very fortunate in the fact that we have not run out of beds, we are planning just like we would with any other surge,” Newsome said.

While Delta has proven to create more symptomatic infections in kids, doctors say they still fair better compared to adults. While data shows about a quarter of adults who have covid will have lingering symptoms, they are still learning more about children.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently recognized that we need to understand this better and have actually asked really all pediatricians to follow up with any pediatric patient who has COVID in the weeks following their diagnosis to look for these long COVID symptoms and I think we will learn a lot in that process about what does that look like, who might be impacted most and then most importantly what are our solutions to get that child well,” Dr. Thacker said.

Doctors say we will continue to learn more about how COVID impacts kids in the coming weeks and months, but the best thing we can do to protect kids is wear a mask and get your vaccine.

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