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Valley Children’s Hospital Prepares To Take in Adult Patients During COVID-19 Surge

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Saying they’ve been planning for this possibility since day one of the pandemic, Valley Children’s Hospital is preparing to take in patients up to 25 years old, “shortly.”

Environmental portrait of Dr. David Christensen, chief physician executive for Valley Children's Healthcare

“Given the current widespread transmission of COVID-19 and the stress on adult facilities throughout the State and our region, our current surge planning accepts patients ages 25 and younger.”Dr. David Christensen, Valley Children’s senior vice president of medical affairs and Chief Physician Executive

“Given the current widespread transmission of COVID-19 and the stress on adult facilities throughout the State and our region, our current surge planning accepts patients ages 25 and younger,” says Dr. David Christensen, Valley Children’s senior vice president of medical affairs said in a statement to GV Wire℠. “The state of California is currently developing transfer guidelines for adult patients at pediatric hospitals. We anticipate that these guidelines will be released shortly.”

The Associated Press reports that hospitals around the country are parking patients in ERs because they have run out of ICU beds, and also moving adults into pediatric hospitals and bringing in staff from out of state to treat the sick in makeshift wards.

Preparing To Accept Patients as Needed

VCH says older patients are already considered on a case-by-case basis. With the San Joaquin Valley region still listed at 0% ICU availability on California’s online COVID tracking dashboard, the ability to find nearby ICU capacity is critical.

“We have been actively collaborating with our community adult facilities and preparing to accept transfers, as needed. Valley Children’s is ready to do our part in supporting our community, our region and the State,” says Christensen.

Other Pediatric Hospitals Have Taken Similar Steps

According to the New York Times, the St. Louis Children’s Hospital started opening its doors to adult patients in November and another pediatric hospital in the region has been accepting adult transfers who do not have COVID-19. Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo said it would temporarily raise its admission ceiling to admit patients up to 25 years old.

During the first big coronavirus surge in the Northeast, from April to June, MassGeneral Hospital for Children took adult patients in its 14-bed intensive care unit.  The unit went back to normal over the summer, but with cases trending upward again in Massachusetts that could soon change.

Hospital Association Guidelines

The Children’s Hospital Association released guidelines in April for several possible approaches to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The nation’s children’s hospitals stand ready to work closely with local, state and federal governments as well as our local community hospitals to find solutions that serve the interests of all patients regardless of age,” reads part of the guidelines.

Part of the patient criteria section of the paper states:

  • In considering admissions to pediatric hospitals, specific age and health status criteria should relate to the clinical conditions and capabilities of the local children’s hospitals and their hospital partners.
  • In all cases, the safety of adult and child patients and families must be central to any decision to expand the admission age and inform pediatric and neonatal intensive care transfers between hospitals.