As RSV cases surge, Cook Children’s enacts ‘disaster code’

This week, in a 24-hour period, Cook Children’s emergency department saw 603 patients. The urgent care centers saw 760 patients in 24 hours.


As an early spike in RSV cases rages on, Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth and other children’s hospitals across North Texas say they’re overwhelmed.  

During a press conference with several doctors Thursday, Cook Children’s Senior Vice President and Chief of Communications, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Wini King, said the hospital system has enacted its ‘disaster code,’ meaning doctors and nurses are picking up extra shifts and working during their days off to care for ill children.  

This week, in a 24-hour period, Cook Children’s emergency department saw 603 patients. The urgent care centers saw 760 patients in 24 hours. 

“This is impacting our ability to care for patients in a timely manner,” King said. “The sheer volume has made finding a bed for our patients a logistical puzzle.” 

They’re not alone. According to the DFW Hospital Council, 95% of pediatric hospital beds in Trauma Service Area E in North Texas are full.   

Some families are waiting up to 10 hours at Cook Children’s emergency room, King said.  

During the call, several doctors pleaded with families to be patient as nurses and medical professionals deal with the high volume of patients.  

RSV can be dangerous for the young and those over 65. According to the CDC, an estimated 100-500 pediatric deaths and 14,000 adult deaths happen each year related to RSV. It’s estimated that RSV-related deaths are undercounted.  

Dr. John Brownstein, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Boston Children’s told ABC News that in a small sampling of national data, RSV is twice as high at this point this year compared to last year. 

Several weeks ago, Euless mother Jessica Salinas had two daughters with RSV. Her 11 month-old, Isabella, woke up blue after a nap. Salinas rushed her to the emergency room at Cook Children’s.  

“I just knew. My mom instinct hit, and it was like, take her now,” Salinas said. “The hardest part for me was watching her suffer.”  

Salinas visited two urgent care centers before her daughter’s illness worsened. She quickly learned how dangerous RSV can become.  

“Having to be put in the tubes and knowing that was her lifeline, without it, God knows what would’ve happened,” Salinas said.

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