SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — We’ve been watching other parts of the country struggle with a recent spike in flu and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection) in children, but now Central New York is seeing the surge.

With the influx in cases, hospitals and pediatric offices throughout the region are trying to keep up with patient demand.

Lyndsay Crocker of North Syracuse has three young children. All of them are battling respiratory illnesses. Her youngest son, Connor, is only 7-months-old diagnosed with RSV.

Crocker isn’t the only parent managing sick children. Theresa Richmond’s 4-year-old son, Wyatt, has struggled with respiratory illness for a month. First, he was diagnosed with croup. Now, he’s dealing with RSV and pneumonia.

“We try to see our primary, but they’re so backed up right now that even trying to call and get through might take two-three hours just to get through to a person to try and set up an appointment.”

THERESA RICHMOND, MOTHER OF TWO, WAMPSVILLE

The rise in illness is causing stress for all pediatric care resources. Dr. Robert Dracker of Summerwood Pediatrics says, unfortunately, he only expects things to get worse before they get better.

There’s no easy answer. I think if we were all seeing patients 24-hours a day, the answer would be easy. We could take care of everyone, but there’s a limit to what we can do. I understand how frustrating it is for a parent. They don’t know what to do and if they can’t get in to see their doctor, they really don’t know what to do and they worry that the child can get worse and worse.

DR. ROBERT DRACKER, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, SUMMERWOOD PEDIATRICS

Dr. Dracker says if your child has symptoms of RSV, contact their provider first. If your child is having trouble breathing and can’t eat and/or drink because of respiratory issues, Dr. Dracker advises they be seen immediately.

Golisano After Hours, located at Upstate Community Hospital on Broad Road in Syracuse, is extending its hours to deal with the increase in patients.

New “Golisano After Hours” clinic times:

  • Monday through Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Friday: 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, located on One Children’s Circle in Syracuse is “at or close to capacity,” according to a hospital spokesperson.

Capacity and wait times fluctuate daily, but when the hospital is at full capacity, Upstate is unable to accept pediatric patient transfers from other hospitals in the community. This means a pediatric bed must be located in another area for patients needing hospital-level care.

The Chief Nursing Officer at St. Joseph’s Health says the emergency department is seeing a “higher than normal” number of pediatric patients as well. The medical team is working on creating flexible hours to treat as many sick children as possible.

We are seeing higher than normal pediatric patients in the St. Joseph’s Health Emergency Department. We continue to collaborate with the hospital to understand the type of support it may need as the number of cases rises in our community. In the meantime, we are flexing our staff to secure supplies and equipment and treat patients of all ages in a safe and efficient manner. We are also encouraging our clinical teams to focus on patient flow to ensure that we have the staff and resources to care for more pediatric patients. We are communicating with our primary care offices and clinics to allow for flexible hours and prioritize seeing children early. St. Joseph’s Health remains available to support our community to provide safe, quality care to all who seek it.

YURI PASHCHUK, RN, CHIEF NURSING OFFICER, ST. JOSEPH’S HEALTH

NewsChannel 9 also reached out to WellNow to gauge treatment availability and wait times. A spokesperson said the number of patients seen for respiratory illnesses including flu, colds, RSV and COVID-19 has been increasing steadily this fall.

We expect demand to remain high while our communities continue to see an uptick in infection rates. We are continuing to monitor developments and will make adjustments as needed to meet the changing needs of our patients and the community.

Our staff is doing everything they can to see as many patients as possible during our hours of operation. While wait times can vary by community, and even by day, our on-site team is very transparent with patients about their approximate wait time.

Patients have the option and are encouraged to schedule their visit through our website whenever possible. Patients can also speak with a provider 24/7 from home using our Virtual Care platform. We recognize that the current high demand may result in longer wait times than what we normally strive for, and we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding.

STATEMENT: WELLNOW SPOKESPERSON