RSV patients swamp Lincoln hospitals; doctors worried about ‘trifecta’ of viruses

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – In the last month, Bryan Health hit an all-time record of 588 patients receiving care.

As RSV cases rise across the nation, local hospitals have started to feel overwhelmed.

While there’s no way to be certain, doctors think there could be an explanation behind the increased numbers.

Dr. David Quimby, an infectious diseases doctor at CHI Health Center, said COVID-19 mitigation measures may have reduced people’s exposure to other viruses as well.

“So it seems to be coming back gangbusters until it goes back to its normal cycle,” he said.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is more severe in children because adults are often exposed several times and build up immunity to severe symptoms.

This fall, St. Elizabeth Hospital and Bryan Medical Center have seen increased severe cases in children.

Experts say RSV isn’t the only concern as we move into the winter months.

Doctors from CHI Health and Bryan Health are worried about what they’re calling the “trifecta” of viruses: RSV, influenza and COVID-19.

Dr. Sian Jones-Jobst, a pediatrician at Complete Children’s Health, said the clinic tests for all of these when kids come in with symptoms.

“It’s not uncommon, actually, when we do have kids who are seen in the emergency room and do get a viral panel that they have multiple viruses,” Jones-Jobst said.

Unlike COVID-19 and the flu, RSV does not have a vaccine, so patients have to let their body fight it off.

Doctors from CHI and Bryan say the spike of RSV cases is worrisome because the peak is normally not until December or January.

Dr. John Trapp, chief medical officer at Bryan Medical Center, said it’s likely that the next couple of months are only going to get worse.

“Getting into the hospital at Bryan Health has been challenging because of our high volumes,” Trapp said. “It’s not uncommon for us to have patients waiting in an emergency department for a bed to get onto a medical unit or a surgical unit.”

Going into the holidays, doctors say you should be extra cautious when you gather with family.

Dr. Michael Schooff, primary care director at CHI Health, said preventative measures like washing hands and surfaces often, staying home when you feel sick and wearing a mask are helpful when preventing the spread of viruses.

“Share your love and your joy and your toys and your good fortune with other people, but keep your germs to yourself,” he said.

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