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Children's Hospital of Atlanta experiencing overcrowding issues amid flu epidemic

A surge in respiratory cases has been causing extremely long wait times across all Georgia children's hospitals.

ATLANTA — For weeks, hospitals have been swamped with a number of sick kids causing extremely high wait times and overcrowding.

Doctors are blaming the issues on the surge of respiratory virus cases coming into emergency centers. 

"While we had a lot of COVID that was circulating in early August, then we had a transition to RSV. Influenza seems to be the predominant virus that's circulating," said Dr. Andi Shane, medical director of hospital epidemiology at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Some hospitals like Children's have even been seeing eight-hour wait times because of the viruses. The hospital is also implementing a new visitor policy limiting the number of guests at each location. 

"Children’s is reverting back to one parent/caregiver in our emergency departments and urgent care centers," Children's shared in a statement to 11Alive.

Medical professionals said not only is the flu swarming the metro, but children all across the southeast of the country are being affected.

They said the overcrowding is leading to a shortage of beds for children in critical respiratory emergencies.

"Our main challenge has been in trying to obtain beds for children that are critically ill or what we say is critical, critical care beds and children needing advanced respiratory support and ventilatory support," said Shane.

Georgia children's hospitals and almost every hospital in the southeast have to look for these special beds that aren't so easy to find, according to doctors. 

"It's not that we haven't seen this before because we have - it's just the duration of the virus. We really need parents and families to help us with that by making sure that children who are eligible for influenza vaccines receive those vaccines," Shane emphasized.

Children's Health Care of Atlanta specialists recommends parents only take their child to an emergency center when symptoms become severe. Here's a list of when to contact for help. 

Credit: Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

"We know these times are really, really tough for parents and we know that they're tough for our staff and just trying to make sure that we communicate well with parents," said Shane.

Parents can call the Children’s nurses line for more guidance on what to do if their child is sick at 404-785-5437.

Parents can also learn more about Children's visitor policies here.


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