New state health order in response to spike in respiratory viruses. – Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — A new state public health emergency order spurred by the rise of respiratory virus cases among pediatric patients comes at a time when San Juan Regional Medical Center is already monitoring the situation statewide, a hospital spokesperson said Dec. 2.
The state is responding to a surge in pediatric cases and corresponding hospitalizations of young patients due to respiratory viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus, a common infection  known as RSV that has seen a spike in activity earlier than expected by physicians.
“The order requires all New Mexico hospitals to work cooperatively to reactivate and participate in a “hub and spoke” model of resource management to ensure patients are transferred to appropriate levels of care,” the state’s news release stated.
The hospital’s chief medical officer last week told the Daily Times that New Mexico hospitals were already in consultation about what to do should severe pediatric respiratory cases surge higher.
“The Department of Health’s public health emergency order does not change anything we are doing here at San Juan Regional Medical Center at this time,” spokesperson Laura Werbner said. “We will continue to support the Department of Health as we all work together to battle the rise in respiratory viruses.”
RSV is not a new virus, and pediatricians consider it among the most galling to treat as there is no vaccine and the treatments for serious cases involve tools like supplemental oxygen, according to the Daily Times archives. The virus hits hardest among very young children and the elderly.
“Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.”
The hospital’s staff has been watching the spread of respiratory viruses well ahead of the usual cold and flu season since early fall.
“We have been tracking the increased cases of COVID, RSV and influenza across the country so we can work proactively to meet the needs of our patients,” Werbner said. “We have learned a lot throughout the pandemic, and continue building upon those structures, successes and communication pathways to make sure we are addressing the needs of the community.”
To that end, the hospital suggested the following precautions”
• Stay home when you are sick
• Wash your hands
• Cover your cough
• Get your vaccines and boosters for COVID and flu
• Wear masks and social distance when necessary – these measures have proven they work.
“Revisiting some of these simple yet effective precautions can help slow the spread of illness,” Werbner said. “We want to keep our community safe, healthy and out of the hospital this holiday season.”
The state’s chief health officer urged caution and common sense during the holiday season.
“We expand our social networks during the holidays, which is an important part of nurturing ourselves as human beings living in a complex world. However, at the same time we create more opportunities for respiratory viruses to spread,” said Acting Department of Health Secretary Dr. David R. Scrase. “It’s important to take steps to reduce the risk for respiratory viruses by practicing the good health and hygiene habits we’ve learned over the past few years as New Mexico nurses, doctors and hospital staff are facing another surge.”
 The state’s announcement noted that officials feel the public health emergency order is necessary “now as hospitals and emergency rooms are operating above their licensed capacity due to a surge in respiratory viruses and are now experiencing an unsustainable strain on healthcare providers.”
The state cited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has stated that the United States is experiencing an early, elevated onset of respiratory disease incidence, as the result of RSV, influenza, COVID-19, and other respiratory viruses,” the release said. “Respiratory disease caused by RSV and other viruses is placing severe strain on pediatric hospital capacity in New Mexico, and evaluations show that the state is nearing a level of capacity strain that would necessitate activating crisis standards of care.”


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