Children’s Hospital sees huge uptick in young patients early in flu season

It’s the early stages of flu season in Winnipeg and the Children’s Hospital at the Health Sciences Centre is already packed with sick kids.

Dr. Karen Gripp, medical director at Children’s Hospital ER, told 680 CJOB Tuesday morning they’re seeing an average of 200-plus kids per day.

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“Sometimes in our tests we are getting kids who test positive for three or four viruses at the same time. It’s almost like kids don’t get a break,” Gripp said.

Sameera Atiq said her son has been sick since fall.

“Fever, you know, cough, runny nose, it’s been two months that he’s suffering from this,” Atiq said.

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Atiq brought her son to HSC Children’s Emergency department late on Monday night and left nine and half hours later.

“We came right at 2:30 and we just got free right now. It’s 12 right now. It’s too busy,” Atiq said.

“Every single child is suffering from this viral infection.”

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Lois Coward, executive director of Niigaanaki Day Care Centre also saw attendance numbers dropping six weeks ago.

As the viruses spread, only half of the registered kids were turning up to day care while the other half stayed home sick with high fever and trouble breathing. Some kids were kept home for weeks at a time.

Coward said staff started getting sick sick, too.

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“We had five absences yesterday of staff with various forms of illness or things like that. When we have less (kids) we’re grateful that we can actually cover that, but if my staff are away and we had a full amount of kids we’d be cutting hours or we’d be calling parents to come get the kids,” Coward said.

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Dr. Gripp said common winter viruses like RSV and influenza along with COVID-19 have been spreading early this year, and it might spell trouble for the coming months.

“If this is the beginning of the winter and we continue at our normal trajectory we could be seeing huge numbers December and January,” Gripp said.

Shared Health said they’re addressing the high volumes by offering overtime and reassigning staff.

They recommended taking preventative measures, and knowing which symptoms require a trip to the ER and which can be managed at home.

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Kids medication shortages leading to issues at schools, hospitals

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