Dad of newborn admitted to intensive care wants more action to curb respiratory infections in Manitoba

Dad of newborn admitted to intensive care wants more action to curb respiratory infections in Manitoba

A Winnipeg father whose seven-week-old son recently spent four days in the hospital battling respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) says the province and some parents don’t seem to realize the seriousness of the situation.

The Children’s Hospital of the Center for Health Sciences saw a surge in registrations over the weekendbringing the total number of critically ill infants in the pediatric intensive care unit to 21 – more than double the pre-pandemic capacity of nine.

One of them was the son of Stéphane Lenoski.

“You hear what’s on the news and you come out there and say it’s real. Nobody invents that,” said Lenoski.

“The waiting room is completely full and all you hear is coughing, screaming, crying and people wanting to be seen,” he said.

The increase has led to Postponement of non-urgent pediatric surgeries.

A spokesman for Shared Health said in an email on Friday that the total number of critically ill pediatric patients at HSC Children’s Hospital is 18.

Everyone must be on board

Lenoski said when his son was born, he and his wife Jocelyn split care of the baby and their two-year-old to protect the child from the infection.

He said his toddler got sick in kindergarten and that’s how the baby got the virus.

“We did everything we could, washed our hands, stayed away from our toddler, and tried not to kiss the baby — he still got it,” Lenoski said.

Lenoski’s son is back home and recovering now, but he said his experience shows other parents also need to be on board in protecting the children.

“That’s not to blame anyone, it’s just to say if your child is sick don’t bring them to daycare because that has a trick effect of infecting 10 kids in daycare, infecting the babies at home and it just explodes,” he said.

Lenoski also questioned why public health authorities have not taken similar public health measures as during the pandemic, such as: B. Mask requirements for children in school and an early Christmas break for students.

“I understand people are tired and going through COVID, but … what’s happening to our kids right now isn’t right. It’s not what Canadians are about,” he said.

What Parents Can Do

dr Elisabete Doyle, the chief of pediatric medicine at HSC Children’s Hospital, said while the situation is dire, “we are in a different space right now” than during the pandemic, when all-out public health restrictions were required.

dr Elisabete Doyle, the medical director of Children’s Hospital at the Health Sciences Center Winnipeg. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

“It’s over the top this year and it’s happening faster … but it’s something we see every year,” Doyle said.

“The best advice really is to take public health action wisely and, rather than shutting things down, emphasizing to parents and families to consciously protect themselves and their families.”

Doyle said as families prepare for the holidays, there are things they can do to reduce their risk of infection and hospitalization.

The first and best defense, she says, is for all family members to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and influenza.

“It’s going to make such a big difference, especially for those in children who aren’t vaccine-eligible.”

Doyle said people should avoid large gatherings and mothers of young babies should have their hands washed before touching them.

“Try not to touch your face and encourage people who are coughing and sneezing to do so in the crook of their arm rather than their hands,” she said.

Doyle also recommended ventilating gathering areas and ensuring children and families also have time to rest.

“We often travel so fast during the holidays and don’t take the time to rest, and viruses love people who haven’t rested,” she said.

More could be done

Show the latest data only about 13 percent of children have received a flu shot. The numbers for COVID-19 vaccines in children are even lower.

Relatively few Manitoba parents have taken their children for a flu shot this season. Even fewer have been vaccinated against COVID-19. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

That’s what health experts say The province could do more to increase the number of people taking the vaccine beyond using billboards and advertising on radio and the internet.

Lenoski said he recalled that much more was being done to get adults to take the vaccine at the height of the pandemic and questions why more creative solutions aren’t being implemented now.

“We did it for our elderly, vulnerable and mostly adult population and COVID. Why don’t we do it for our children?” he asked.

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