Priority to toddlers in intensive care


Faced with the wave of respiratory infections affecting young children, general hospitals in all regions have been instructed to « protect » the beds of their pediatric unit and henceforth direct young people aged 16 to 18 who require intensive care to adult hospitals.

A directive from the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) to this effect was enacted on Monday, advocating the transfer of older young people to an adult environment in order to “allow better availability for the very young clientele”.

“It is very young children, under the age of 2, who require more intensive care and hospitalizations,” specifies the directive sent by the MSSS.

General hospitals in the regions have also been urged to keep available at all times all the beds available to their pediatric units as well as the specialized staff attached to them, said Thursday the DD Marie-Claude Roy, President of the Association of Pediatricians of Quebec.

“The situation is the same everywhere in Quebec, our intensive care units are full, tirelessly. The instruction that has been given is to protect pediatric beds for children who need specialized care, ”she said.

According to this doctor, the wave of hospitalizations that have hit young children in recent weeks affects all regions, with the exception of those in the far east of Quebec.

Priority to children

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many regional hospitals have been “borrowing” beds from pediatric units in order to accommodate more adult patients. But that won’t be the case anymore, she said. The watchword now is to « give priority to pediatric care », explains the DD Roy.

According to the DD Lise Bélanger, head of the pediatrics department at the CISSS de Chaudière-Appalaches, the occupancy rate of pediatric units in the region rose from 30% to 50% and even doubled on certain days. “We had to recruit one more pediatrician to speed up the granting of leave in the morning. We regularly have children who require specialized care and who are placed on high-flow oxygen therapy through a nasal cannula and who are under the continuous supervision of nurses,” she explains.

As soon as a child or a parent has symptoms, they must wear the mask

According to this doctor, some of the visits to the emergency room could be prevented if the parents provided certain basic preventive care to infants and children under 4 years of age, in particular maintaining daily nasal hygiene performed with a saline solution.

“What we see is a lot of co-infections, and it is the youngest who are the most sick. There are important things to do in prevention, she says, including basic care, giving more frequent fluids and elevating the child’s head during sleep. »

Limit the risks

According to the president of the Association des pédiatres du Québec, the respiratory viruses involved in the current epidemic are not more virulent than before, but are occurring this year all at the same time, which contributes to the unprecedented overload experienced in the pediatric units and hospitals.

Pediatricians Lise Bélanger and Marie-Claude Roy welcome the recommendations advocating the return of the mask to limit the risk of infection, and recommend the granting of the influenza vaccine to children over six months old.

“The message to get across is that as soon as a child or a parent has symptoms, you have to wear a mask. We are not at the point of bringing the mask back to schools, but we must take responsibility as citizens and develop reflexes to protect the little ones, ”supports the DD Roy.

The head of the CISSS Chaudière-Appalaches pediatrics department reminds us that infants, who are particularly at risk of complications in the event of a respiratory infection, must be better protected. “Parents should be reminded that with an infant, public places, shops, shopping centers should be avoided, and visits by people who have symptoms should be limited, she underlines. We are there! »

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