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RSV Challenges Hospitals in Pa., Nation

Help reduce the strain on hospitals this winter

November 02, 2022

Pennsylvania hospitals continue to respond to a rise in seasonal illnesses, especially RSV, as we head into the winter months.

Today, HAP’s Emergency Management team’s weekly briefing focused on the pediatric surge of RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus. Hospitals in Pennsylvania and around the nation are dedicated to caring for patients with the virus, while calling on everyone to do their part to stay healthy this winter.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • An earlier start:  The upward trend in cases comes after COVID-19 public health precautions limited the spread of other seasonal illnesses, such as RSV and influenza, during recent years.
  • What you can do:  Take public health precautions to reduce the spread of RSV and other seasonal respiratory illnesses, such as staying home when sick, covering your coughs and sneezes, cleaning frequently touched surfaces, and washing your hands thoroughly.
    • If you haven’t already, now is an ideal time to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu.
  • Estimating the surge: The Children's Hospital Association estimates that respiratory incident rates are running about 50 percent ahead of pre-pandemic levels.
  • Potential vaccine:  This week, Pfizer announced it planned to submit its bivalent RSV vaccine for regulatory approval by the end of the year.
  • Quotable:  “Children's hospitals and their dedicated staff are doing their part but improving our medical surge response for all pandemic and viral seasons requires having better national plans in place," Children's Hospital Association CEO Mark Wietecha said in a recent statement.

HAP has developed a toolkit highlighting the ways RSV can strain hospital emergency departments, longer than usual emergency department wait times, options for non-emergency care, and the importance of COVID-19 and flu vaccinations. The communications toolkit includes key messages, social media assets, and other resources and is available online.

Additional information about RSV, including resources for health care professionals, is available online.

For questions about RSV, contact Christopher Chamberlain, MS, RN, CHEP, HAP’s vice president, emergency management, or Robert Shipp III, PhD, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, vice president, population health and clinical affairs.