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Pediatric flu cases are on the rise across Western New York

Oishei Children's Hospital has added beds to accommodate the extra patients.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Pediatric flu cases are surging across the country and here in Western New York, putting a strain on hospitals and emergency departments.

Friday, 2 On Your Side got an update from Oishei Children's Hospital on how these respiratory illnesses are impacting Western New York health care providers and families.

"In terms of what we're seeing, we're seeing a little bit less RSV and a significant increase in the flu unfortunately," said Dr. Stephen Turkovich, chief medical officer of Oishei Children's Hospital.

And that is putting a strain on the emergency department at Oishei Children's Hospital, with more than 200 patients a day coming in.

"We've opened up eight additional rooms for our emergency department actually in our lobby which has been helpful for some of the less acute patients to sort of get them in quicker," Dr. Turkovich said.

They have about 40 beds opened up in non-traditional areas in the hospital to handle this latest respiratory surge.

"When a child or a person presents to the emergency room, they're immediately seen in triage, so the nurse who sees them will look at how acute they are, and how serious they are, and then they're given a number one to five," Dr. Turkovich said.

"One being the most acute, we need to see you right now, life threatening; five being not very significant, so five would be a scratch on your finger or something like that. So the wait time is really going to be contingent upon how acute you are."

The goal is to have you wait no more than an hour or two.

"We do have two urgent care type areas in the emergency room, and one of those is the new areas we've opened up in our lobby, and so we have extra staff to help some of those children who are sort of the fours and fives that have flu-like illnesses, but don't have any real significant breathing problems," Dr. Turkovich said.

"Maybe have a fever. Maybe a little bit of vomiting, but are not very sick, so we're doing everything we can to try to work through the wait times."

If your child is sick, Dr. Turkovich says to first call your pediatrician for advice. 

He adds that to try to keep the fever down and keep your child hydrated, Tylenol or Motrin works for the fever, but he says don't give anyone less than six-months-old Motrin. To keep a child hydrated, he says Pedialyte works really well.

Dr. Turkovich wanted to remind everyone to get their flu shot this year.

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