CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Family Pediatric Emergency Department at Baystate Medical Center is near capacity right now, with doctors reporting an unusual spike in respiratory illnesses among children.

There is a capacity problem for hospitals in New England, hospitals are currently overwhelmed with pediatric patients getting disproportionally sick with common respiratory illnesses. According to Dr. Charlotte Boney, Pediatrician in Chief at Baystate Children’s Hospital, there just aren’t enough beds to go around.

“My hospital is full of little kids, infants, toddlers, even older children, with these respiratory viruses and it’s the early fall.” Dr. Boney said these respiratory illnesses include rhinovirus and RSV, and kids are getting hit hard this year because their immune systems are out of shape due to the social distancing that took place during the pandemic.

“They haven’t seen these viruses to sort of mount an appropriate immune response and keep you from getting really, really sick.” Dr. Boney suggests if you are concerned about your child, stay in contact with your pediatrician because if you just show up at the emergency room you are going to have a long wait.

Signs that your child needs to go to the emergency room include shortness of breath, uncontrollable coughing, lethargy, the inability to drink, and abnormal urination. The Chicopee Boys and Girls Club sees anywhere from 60 to 70 children a day and feels fortunate these viruses have not moved through their community.

Jason Reed, the Executive Director of the Chicopee Boys and Grils Club, stated “We have not seen a major uptick in absences, internally in the building we have maintained a lot of our covid protocols as far as cleaning and sanitizing, so hopefully that will work to minimize that as much as possible.”

If you are looking to protect your children from these illnesses, doctors suggest vaccinating for the flu and covid, washing hands, and using masks in certain settings.