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Cape Fear Valley’s ED experiencing high pediatric volume Flu and RSV driving majority of Emergency Department visits


FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Nov. 4, 2022 – The adult and pediatric Emergency Departments at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center are currently experiencing higher than normal patient volumes, and doctors point to a rise in flu and the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) as the cause. ac

“Flu season came early this year, as did RSV, and the numbers of cases are high everywhere,” said Chief Clinical Officer Michael Zappa, M.D. “Hospitals throughout the state are filling their pediatric beds with children with RSV or flu. A large portion of what we’re seeing in the adult ED are respiratory illnesses as well.”

Though a vaccine is available for the flu, there is no vaccine for RSV. Masking, handwashing, avoiding close contact and cleaning frequently touched surfaces can all help prevent the spread of RSV as well as the flu. Adults can contract RSV, but it generally impacts children much more often than adults. With the flu, children and geriatric patients are at a higher risk for complications.

Cape Fear Valley Medical Center’s 25 Pediatric inpatient beds almost constantly stayed full this week. About 80 percent of the children admitted to the hospital recently have tested positive for RSV.

Zappa said that many of the children being brought to the ED are able to be seen and sent home, and could also receive the same testing and evaluation at one of Cape Fear Valley’s ExpressCare locations. Some children may also need a breathing treatment, which the ED can provide, without needing to be admitted.

“We don’t want to discourage anyone who is having an emergency from coming to the Emergency Department,” Zappa said. “If an adult or a child is having difficulty breathing, they should come to the Emergency Department. We do ask that people consider our ExpressCares for non-emergencies, and for people to extend their patience if they experience extended wait times in the Emergency Departments.”

With COVID-19 continuing to also be present in the community, Zappa said the health system could be facing a “triple-demic” as the winter season approaches, and stressed that it’s not too late to catch up on a needed flu shot. Vaccines are also available for COVID-19, and the same precautions that can prevent flu and RSV – masking, hand washing and avoiding close contact – are recommended for COVID-19 as well.

“I strongly encourage adults and children to get vaccinated for the flu this season, as well as getting their COVID-19 booster,” Zappa said.

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