Orange County Board Extends RSV-Flu Emergency at CHOC

Two Year Old Toddler is Hospitalized in PICU for RSV and is seen with nasal canula and playing with toys.

Photo: Getty Images

SANTA ANA (CNS) - The Orange County Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted to extend its emergency declaration to help the Children's Hospital of Orange County cope with an ongoing wave of patients afflicted with upper respiratory viruses.

The emergency declaration has been key in helping the hospital obtain Tamiflu, albuterol and other medications that have been in short supply nationally, Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, the county's chief medical officer, told the board.

CHOC's chief medical officer, Dr. Sandip Godambe, said the hospital is so jammed it is setting up beds wherever it has space such as a discharge lounge, an oncology playroom gym and surgical playrooms. The emergency room lobby has been extended into the hospital's driveway, he added.

The hospital is seeing more than 150 children a day in the first-floor lobby. The average number of visits in the emergency room during this wave is 410 with a high of 489, double the usual, Godambe said.

Without the emergency declaration the hospital would not be able to get the medications it needs, but also important supplies such as syringes and gurneys.

The wave of RSV and flu patients is up 25% in an "already record- breaking year," Godambe said.

January and February are usually the peak months for the viruses, so it's unclear if this wave will just continue or worsen through the winter, Godambe said.

Some of the older children are being sent to other area hospitals for adults, Chinsio-Kwong said.

Supervisor Andrew Do said, "We are treating this in a very limited way" to allow for a waiver on the usual regulations for using free spaces for beds and to access more medications and supplies that are in short supply.

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