LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A “significant number” of children ages 0-4 years old are seriously ill with respiratory illnesses, putting pressure on pediatric hospital care as young patients fill available beds all over the state.

Health officials nationwide have expressed concern about a “tripledemic” of RSV, flu and COVID-19 cases. It appears we’re fighting that battle now in children’s care, according to information released Wednesday by the Nevada Hospital Association (NHA).

“Pediatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs) are full, and the ability to surge and care for the most critical children remains limited by the number of available qualified nurses, particularly on night shifts,” NHA said in its weekly report.

“Hospitals continue to hold children in the emergency rooms as they await an open bed to admit them. This has created some instances of hospital diversion and the rerouting of ambulances,” NHA said.

University Medical Center CEO Mason Van Houweling said Wednesday, “UMC Children’s Hospital continues to care for a high number of patients with RSV and other respiratory viruses. Our dedicated team members provide these young patients with the high-quality care they deserve while efficiently managing bed capacity. In response to this increased patient volume, we have expanded our pediatric capacity to accommodate additional children. As always, UMC has the staffing, bed space and resources available to meet the needs of our community.”

He encouraged families to take advantage of UMC Quick Care locations to reduce demand at the emergency room. “Every day, our Pediatric Emergency Department continues to see a significant number of children with non-emergent health concerns. For non-emergent issues, we encourage families to visit UMC Quick Care locations or their regular pediatricians.”

UMC Children’s Hospital on W. Charleston Boulevard has 71 inpatient pediatric beds, according to UMC spokesman Scott Kerbs:

  • General Pediatrics – 21 inpatient beds
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit – 14 inpatient beds
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – 36 inpatient beds

The hospital also has a 21-bed pediatric emergency department.

8 News Now has also contacted Sunrise Children’s Hospital for more information regarding their facilities for children. This story will be updated as that information becomes available.

Families with young children are a familiar sight at all hours of the day at Las Vegas-area hospitals, and NHA says it’s not just RSV, flu and COVID-19. Rhinovirus, enterovirus and other respiratory ailments are also a factor.

The statistics:

  • Pediatric beds throughout the state remain at or near 100% capacity on a daily basis.
  • Pediatric RSV cases requiring hospitalization are trending upward and account for approximately 20% of the pediatric patients currently hospitalized.
  • Flu‐related hospitalizations continue to increase, up to 162 hospitalizations (up from 141 last week). There have been two deaths in Southern Nevada so far this flu season.
  • Emergency room visits are averaging 5,069 per day in Nevada.
  • About 17% of emergency room visits are for COVID-19 symptoms.

What’s Nevada doing about the situation? An agreement reached last week is fast-tracking licenses for pediatric nurses who are desperately needed to care for patients. NHA, the Nevada State Board of Nursing and the Governor’s Office hammered out the details and made the announcement this week after NHA had requested authorization to resolve a problem that prevented pediatric nurses licensed in other states from assisting at Nevada care facilities.

Flu remains a concern, but a sharp increase in hospitalized cases reported last week has now slowed considerably.

“Type‐A flu accounts for approximately 87% of flu patients requiring hospitalization and 90% of those flu patients requiring ICU‐level care,” the NHA said on Wednesday.

NHA reports that hospital occupancy rates are at 74% statewide — 76% in ICU. “Nevada continues to maintain adequate capacity to treat adult emergencies. Scheduled non‐emergency procedures should proceed unimpeded.”