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‘Unprecedented surge’ in RSV patients causes more surgery delays at Children’s Hospital

‘Unprecedented surge’ in RSV patients causes more surgery delays at Children’s Hospital

Primary Children’s Hospital announced Monday that about 50 elective, pre-scheduled surgeries will be postponed so the hospital can better treat a large influx of patients with RSV and other respiratory illnesses. (Intermountain Healthcare)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Primary Children’s Hospital announced Monday that about 50 elective, pre-scheduled surgeries that require patients to stay overnight will be postponed so the hospital can treat a huge influx of children with RSV and other respiratory illnesses.

In a statement, the hospital said that in order to “provide excellent care, and to ensure that staff and resources are best able to meet the needs of patients during this busy time, the hospital is postponing as many of this week’s pre-scheduled, non-urgent procedures and surgeries as would require an inpatient stay.” whenever possible.”

Those 50 surgeries make up about 10% of all surgeries scheduled this week in Primary Children. It is for the second time this month, hospital administrators made a decision to postpone elective surgeries due to the large number of patients with respiratory diseases.

“We are not taking this action lightly,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the hospital, during a press conference Monday afternoon.

Although the hospital has taken many preventive measures to deal with the expected increase in the cold season, this year has seen an “unprecedented increase” in RSV accompanied by high volumes of influenza and COVID-19 cases, he said.

The hospital is currently operating at full capacity due to the increase, which means they have turned some clinical areas into inpatient rooms and accommodated two patients in rooms where there is usually only one. Despite those efforts, Pavia said the hospital is pushed to the limit and every day they do their best to help the children get well enough to send them home and make room for other sick children.

“Our patient volume exceeds typical winter levels, and the hospital has been at or near capacity for several consecutive weeks,” said Dustin Lipson, administrator of Primary Children’s Hospital. “This is combined with a large number of patients coming to the emergency room for other various illnesses and injuries.”

The emergency room has set records for the number of children seen in one day on two of the last four days, Pavia said, which has kept her “extremely busy.” The emergency room team is being stepped up to meet the needs of patients, but there is limited space for patients, which led to the decision to postpone those elective, pre-scheduled surgeries, Pavia said.


We really took this action as a way to provide the best and safest care to children who need it.

-Dr. Andrew Pavia, a pediatric infectious disease specialist


“We really took this action as a way to provide the best and safest care to children who need it,” Pavia said. “Unfortunately, this is causing inconvenience for some families who have scheduled surgeries canceled.”

Pavia said the best thing to do to help the hospital at this time is to stay out of the Emergency Center and keep the children healthy and away from sick people. Mild symptoms in adults can easily be passed on to children, who will then show more severe symptoms that potentially require hospital visits, he said.

“If not for yourself, then do it for our community,” Pavia said of flu and COVID-19 vaccinations. Getting the flu shot, the COVID-19 vaccine, wearing a mask when you show symptoms, and more can help prevent the disease.

Because RSV and the flu haven’t peaked yet, Pavia said the hospital is in for a tough few weeks. Primary Children’s will reassess daily whether more elective surgeries will need to be postponed.

Electoral operations that do not require an overnight stay are still being held as normal, but could be delayed if things worsen, Pavia said.

“I know how hard this is going to be for some of our families. We wouldn’t do it if we had another choice,” Pavia said. “We will not delay any operation that will endanger any child. But we know it will cause some inconvenience and possibly expense.”

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Cassidy Wixom covers Utah County communities and reports the evening news for KSL.com.

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