‘Tripledemic’ Causing Higher Volume of Patients in Emergency Rooms

Emergency departments are seeing an increase in patients with flu and RSV, according to Holy Cross Health Acute Care President Dr. Louis Damiano. 

“And let’s not forget COVID. So we termed this the tripledemic, because of the three different upper respiratory tract environments,” Damiano said during a media briefing Wednesday. 

He said that in July and August, most upper respiratory tract infections were due to COVID-19, but that has changed. Now, about 50% of those visits at Silver Spring and Germantown locations are RSV or flu.

“The impact on the emergency room is that the volumes are higher, and as the volumes are higher and we try and see and triage the patients, it also results in longer wait times.”

Damiano said about one-third of emergency department patients are there due to COVID-19, flu or RSV.

The emergency department is seeing an increase in pediatric patients at the Silver Spring and Germantown hospitals. RSV is primarily targeting young children under the age of two and the elderly. Holy Cross in Silver Spring and in Germantown do not have pediatric ICUs.

Damiano recommends that if someone or their child has an upper respiratory tract infection with symptoms, they should contact their primary care provider or pediatrician for advice. If they do not feel it is severe, they should go to urgent care. 

“If you have any question whatsoever that it might be severe and that your child is not doing well, then please come to the nearest emergency room.”

He said the tripledemic is not at the point where a full surge plan is necessary, but health leaders are ready to do that as they monitor the number of patients seen.

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