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Healthwatch 16: Kids and the coronavirus

Geisinger's children's hospital has been operating near capacity for months, but only a small number of patients have had to be transferred to other facilities.

DANVILLE, Pa. — The omicron variant continues to put a strain on hospitals across the country. Doctors at Geisinger say that we are still seeing high numbers here at home but fewer hospitalizations.

"A couple of weeks back, about 15 percent of the pediatric patient admissions at Janet Weis Children's Hospital were because of COVID-19-related disease. I can tell you that that number is starting to decline, which is very good news," said Dr. Frank Maffei, chair of pediatrics at Geisinger Medical Center.

Dr. Maffei says Janet Weis Children's Hospital has been at or near capacity for months. In addition to COVID-19, seasonal viruses like RSV have not taken a year off. 

There are also staffing shortages.

"Perhaps a unit that could take 15 critically ill children may only be able to take 11 or 12 because we may not have the nursing and support staff."

Since the start of the pandemic, Janet Weis Children's Hospital has admitted more than 225 kids with COVID.

RELATED: How to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine, booster appointment in Pennsylvania

Dr. Maffei says Geisinger is only diverting a small number of pediatric patients to other facilities.

"We probably take 98, 99 percent of all the admissions that come our way."

Thousands of children have been vaccinated against COVID-19 at Geisinger clinics.

"This is occurring in a remarkable manner," Dr. Maffei said. "The efficiency that it's occurring is truly worth noting."

If you'd like to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine, you'll find more information here. 


Watch more stories about the coronavirus pandemic on WNEP's YouTube page.  

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