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Rising Flu, RSV Cases Impacting Capacity at South Bay Hospitals

Children across the South Bay are flocking to emergency rooms with RSV and flu, putting a strain on hospitals.

A survey of every hospital in the county conducted Tuesday, found there are only six available pediatric intensive care unit beds, 21 pediatric beds and 26 available neonatal intensive care unit beds.

To offer some perspective, Valley Medical Center alone has a total of 44 pediatric intensive care beds. So to only have six available beds left to serve a county of nearly 2 million people is significant.

“We have very low numbers for NICU and PICU and pediatrics county wide and we have limited number of staff available to come work at the hospitals,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

There was already a national nursing shortage and now many of those nurses who were available are calling out to take care of sick kids at home.

“We’re working with the nurses’ union to see if the nurses we have now will be allowed to take on extra shifts,” Chavez said.

Those RSV headlines are even more troubling when you consider COVID and flu cases appear to be surging as well.

To help handle the shortage, Dr. Dennis Lund, the chief medical officer at Stanford Children’s Health, said that “Stanford Children’s is deferring and rescheduling some elective clinical surgeries amid the respiratory illness surge in order to ensure that we have the capacity to care for our most at-risk young patients.”

This week, UCSF Children’s Hospital In San Francisco and Oakland set up tents to handle additional pediatric patients.

As the number of beds in the South Bay shrink, Santa Clara County hospitals could be forced to do the same thing soon.

The good news? Right now, Valley Med has plenty of adult beds. So, it’s possible if the pediatric beds fill up some children would be assigned to adult beds.

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