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National Guard sending team to help Riley Hospital staff amid COVID surge

Of the 32 COVID patients at Riley Hospital for Children Tuesday, nine are pregnant mothers.

INDIANAPOLIS — Doctors at Riley Hospital for Children say they are seeing four times as many kids sick with COVID coming to the hospital than at any other time during the pandemic. 

According to doctors, more than half of the patients admitted are ending up in the ICU, with 40% of those critical care patients ending up on ventilators.   

“There are more of them and they are sicker, as well as in our maternity center. We are seeing a constant positivity rate in the pregnant women who are coming to the hospital,” said Dr. Elaine Cox, chief medical officer for Riley Children’s Health. 

According to Cox, Riley has 32 COVID patients right now, nine of them are pregnant mothers. Eleven patients are in the ICU and of the in-hospital COVID patients, 77% are unvaccinated.

Cox said kids are coming in sick with other illnesses, too.   

“When babies or children need specialized care, we don’t always have the right bed in the right place,” Cox explained, saying the ER is also getting a large number of patients there. “We are easily about 120 to 140 COVID tests a day in our E.D., with 75 to 85 percent of those coming back positive. So our team is trying very hard to make a clinical judgment and guidelines on who gets admitted and who gets sent home."

Credit: WTHR
Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health

It’s not just children who are getting sick. Cox said staff is catching COVID, too, leading to elective surgeries being suspended.  

“We’re also cutting back on some of our other services that we sometimes are able to offer patients, such as art therapy and music therapy, which have very important implications in healing, but it’s what we must do now,” she said. 

All of this has led the Indiana National Guard to deploy a team at Riley by week’s end to help fill in staffing gaps.