RSV, bed capacity concerns prompt hospital visitor age restrictions

Starting Monday, no visitors age 5 and under are allowed at Corewell Health East hospitals unless visiting a parent or sibling with a severe illness or if it’s an end-of-life situation.
Posted at 6:19 PM, Nov 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-04 18:19:25-04

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — April Miller and her 4-year-old son, Austin, spent an afternoon at the park. She said concerns about respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) led administrators at Austin's preschool to clean the building.

"I don’t know too much about (RSV), but I know my son, his school is currently closed because of it. They closed it for like the whole week," she explained.

She said administrators closed his preschool to clean the building.

That's just one organization taking extra precaution to protect little kids from RSV. Today, Corewell Health East announced age restrictions for visitors.

Starting Monday, no visitors under the age of 5 are allowed. The hospital system says exceptions to the new policy include children who are visiting a parent or sibling with a severe illness or if it’s an end-of-life situation.

Dr. Matthew Denenberg is the chief of pediatrics for Corewell Health East.

“We’re seeing an unprecedented number of patients in our emergency departments and upper respiratory infection caused by RSV," he said.

Denenberg added, "It’s been a really early and severe year for RSV -- worse than any other year that I’ve seen. I’ve been doing this 20 years."

Without the new policy, he said hospital bed capacity is already an issue.

“Our pediatric intensive care unit here at Corewell East in Royal Oak has been full consistently for the last few weeks. In fact, we have some icu patients that are... boarding over in the adult spaces," he explained.

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian is an infectious disease doctor and the state's chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

She said on top of RSV, the state is already starting to see a small uptick in influenza A cases and then there's COVID-19.

“And there are some variants of concern out there. We think that we will like see an uptick in COVID-19 cases, again, later on in the winter. But the hospitals are already stretched pretty thin," Bagdasarian explained.

"So, I think we really have to come together as a state, as a community to protect our healthcare capacity and keep our citizens safe and healthy," she added.

This is all news to Miller who said she just wants Austin to be safe.

“I’ll probably keep him a couple more days just because the seriousness of it," she said.