Kootenai Health braces for surge of COVID-19 cases in kids

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho– Kootenai Health is bracing for what could stretch its resources even further as students head back to school.

The hospital says it expects to see more kids with COVID-19. The problem is, it doesn’t have a pediatric ICU. That means if a child needs extra care, they will have to go somewhere else.

Kootenai Health says there aren’t enough beds in the region for what they expect to see in the coming months, especially as students head back to class.

Medical Director of Pediatrics Dr. Vanessa Carroll says the hospital can only anticipate what it might see from the Coeur d’Alene School District alone– which is about 200 kids being hospitalized for COVID.

“COVID is here and we have seen it and have cared for it,” Carroll said.

Even if there were enough beds, there might not be enough nurses to help.

Based on national trends, Carroll says she thinks 60 kids will end up needing to go into ICU. The hospitals around the region can’t cover them all in their pediatric ICUs.

Sacred Heart has 19 beds, St. Luke’s in Boise has 13, another 20 is at Oregon Health in Portland and six are at Logan Hospital in Kalispell.

To brace for the potential surge in COVID-19 cases, the hospital is reallocating space to prepare to increase bed capacity. It has also started refresher training on ventilators.

“If we add up the available beds based on the current projections, we don’t even have enough beds to care for the Coeur d’Alene School District with COVID that require hospitalization, much less Kootenai County,” Carroll said.

Kootenai Health said only about 1,000 of the 11,000 students who attend the Coeur d’Alene School District are vaccinated. Right now, students will not be required to wear masks in class.

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