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12/18/14news article

Dayton Children’s is stepping up to meet record levels of visits

flu, seasonal viruses send hundreds to the emergency department

This week, Dayton Children’s has seen a record number of patients in the emergency department, more than 300 a day. Dayton Children’s Urgent Care in Springboro is seeing a large volume of patients as well.  Many of the cases are flu-related and symptoms are so bad, some of the patients have been admitted.

Dayton Children’s is taking swift and innovative action to address this spike in patients, while providing compassionate, comprehensive care. The hospital has increased staffing in affected units, bringing additional support in critical areas.  Many employees have come in on scheduled days off to help.  Managers are volunteering in non-clinical ways, like providing information to patients and completing paperwork, so doctors and nurses can focus on patient care.  The hospital’s facilities staff has transformed emergency department offices and conference rooms into patient care rooms overnight, to help handle patient overflow.

The flu is hitting our community very hard and many children are struggling with their symptoms. Most times, it is best for parents to call their child’s doctor first to discuss whether the child needs to come in for treatment.  "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommending influenza antiviral treatment for high risk patients, such as those younger than 5 years of age or those with respiratory problems," says Thomas Krzmarzick, director of the Soin Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center at Dayton Children's Hospital.  "The medication is most effective if started within 48 hours of the onset of the illness." 

However, if a child is struggling to breathe, parents should bring him or her immediately to the emergency department.  “Parents should pay close attention to children younger than 2 years old because they have smaller airways and cannot handle illness as well as older children or adults would,” says Sherman Alter, MD, director of the infectious disease department at Dayton Children’s.

what if my child gets the flu?

Even if you follow all the precautions, a child may still come down with the cold or flu. How do you know the difference?

  • The flu: High fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, cough (sometimes severe), exhaustion, loss of appetite and sore throat.
  • A cold: Low fever if any, runny nose, little coughing; child's appetite and energy level are usually not affected.

Dr. Alter says the best way to treat children who have the flu is to make sure they get extra rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat light, easy-to-digest foods like applesauce.  Parents can also use a cool-mist humidifier to ease respiratory discomfort.

what if I am concerned about my child’s symptoms?

You child’s doctor is the best person to call for any concerns about your child’s health.  He or she knows your child and their previous medical history and can recommend the best course of action.  However if the doctor’s office is closed or you need immediate help, you can take your child to Dayton Children’s emergency department or Dayton Children’s Urgent Care in Springboro. 

Go to the Urgent Care for:

  • Colds, coughs, flu
  • Ear infections
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Asthma with mild to moderate wheezing
  • When recommended by your child’s physician

Go to the emergency department for:

  • Difficulty breathing and/or respiratory distress
  • Concerns of dehydration
  • Seizures
  • Any symptom requiring prompt medical attention to prevent deterioration, disability or death
  • When recommended by your child's physician

if I have to go to the emergency department or urgent care, what should I bring with me?

  • Your insurance card
  • A list of your child’s medications, allergies and medical history. By putting this together ahead of time, there is no delay in an emergency. This is very important if your child has a chronic condition such as asthma or special needs.
  • Your child’s favorite toy, blanket or game. Depending on your child’s situation and due to the volume of patients, there may be a wait.

ways to avoid the flu

It’s also important that parents teach their children ways to avoid spreading the flu.

  • Get your flu shot every year.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap, especially after using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing and before eating.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then put it in the trash.
  • If a tissue isn't available, cough or sneeze into your upper arm, not into your hands.
  • Never pick up used tissues.
  • Never share cups and eating utensils.
  • Stay home from school when you’re sick with the flu.

For more information, contact: 
Stacy Porter 
Communications specialist 
Phone: 937-641-3666 
porters@childrensdayton.org

Thomas R. Krzmarzick, MD

division chief emergency medicine
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