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Loma Linda Children's Hospital is full

Loma Linda Children’s Hospital is the one of the only children’s hospitals east of Los Angeles. According to medical director Dr. Merrick Lopez, it’s been filled with sick kids for the past few months.

“We transfer between five to 10 patients out and then just get the same amount back within that same day, and so it's been nonstop,” said Lopez.

Lopez says hospitals in Bakersfield and Sacramento have called to see if Loma Linda has pediatric ICU beds. Other hospitals in the area don’t have pediatric ICUs. Pediatric ICUs provide specialty care to critically ill young patients.

“We have equipment that is tailored to the smaller kids. Also just the sub-specialty needed for both the nurses or therapists and physicians," said Lopez.

Loma Linda has about 45 pediatric ICU beds between the regular pediatric ICU and the cardiac pediatric ICU— which has been taking in non-cardiac patients. There’s also a step-down ICU that offers medium-level care.

The hospital is also dealing with a serious nursing shortage. The nurses they do have are working extra shifts. Lopez said they have had to bring in nurses who don't typically treat pediatric patients.

“One of the things that is heartbreaking is taking a call as an ICU physician, and then talking to these outside emergency departments, who have had to call multiple hospitals in the region to find PICU beds and we have to tell them, we don't have beds right away,” said Lopez.

With such a limited number of hospital beds for children, prevention is key. Handwashing, masking and vaccines can all help prevent winter respiratory viruses. If your child is sick and struggling to breathe, seek medical attention.