Neonatal patients being admitted with COVID-19 to Kootenai Health

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho– Kootenai Health has 112 patients hospitalized as of Wednesday. Eight of them are in their COVID Recovery Unit– a converted conference space to hold patients.

Kootenai Health, however, is preparing for an even larger patient surge. This time it’s one that includes children.

“This isn’t an absolute situation,” said Dr. Vanessa Carroll, pediatric medical director for Kootenai Health. “We can impact change. We can wear our masks and we can stay home when we’re sick and hopefully those numbers that we’re preparing for, they never happen.”

They’ve seen patients as young as babies and up to 18 years old.

“We have admitted our neonates into the hospital with COVID. The way that they’re commonly getting the infection is the same as the general population through droplet and contact exposure,” said Dr. Brooke Lang, a neonatologist.

All preventable, Dr. Carroll said. They’re saddened by the state of classrooms.

“A lot of parents and school board officials say that’s not me, that’s not our house, that’s not our home and it is and that’s what makes us sad and scared because it doesn’t need to be this way,” she said.

For Dr. Hinah Parker, hospitalist and mom of three all younger than 11, it’s high anxiety.

“I will Black Friday at 2 a.m. outside the clinic, and be ready because these things aren’t approved flippantly. There’s a lot of data behind it and really, that unvaccinated population right now, those young kids, those are the ones we’re going to see coming in droves and getting sick,” she said.

Dr. Jeff Shirts, a pediatrician at Lakeside Pediatrics has had a 200 percent increase in COVID-19 patients in their clinic.

“I have taken care of kids this year who have had symptoms of long severity,” he said. “They vary by person depending on severity but that cognitive cloudiness that they describe, the lack of clarity is definitely present in the pediatric population as we’ve seen in the adult population,” he said.

Right now, Kootenai Health can take care of 15 pediatric patients.

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