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An unexpected 2022 brought high patient volumes for nurses at Children's Health

Jacob Wells
"Healthcare is hard right now," said Sunni Yates, a nursing director for Children's Health Plano. "Nursing, it's hard work. But there is that capacity to have fun, as well."

Nurses at Children’s Health in North Texas have seen patients through surges of COVID-19, the flu, and now RSV.

Adriane Kreher and Sunni Yates both work in Children's Medical Center Plano, where their teams have experienced high patient volumes in 2022. Kreher is the director of the respiratory care and pediatric intensive care unit, where Yates is the nursing supervisor and oversees the clinical resource team. They share what they’ve seen and what keeps them coming back to health care, year after year.

2022 in pediatric healthcare

Sunni Yates: What comes to mind for this past year is unexpected and innovation. Unexpected in that we did not expect the pediatric volumes of patients to be this high and continue to be this high over time. And then in innovation, I would say we we've had to adjust our workflows many different times in response to these high influx of patients.

Adriane Kreher: In 2022 for the pediatric intensive care unit, we continue to exceed our average daily census, every single month. Our volume and capacity constraints are increasing.

Yates: We're seeing those volume surges and capacity constraints in every area: med surge floor, the ED, all of it. The big difference and take away this year is the volumes are probably not going to go away. They may dissipate some, you know, here and there. But with D-FW expanding so rapidly, that brings in a lot more people, a lot more families, a lot more kiddos.

Kreher: For pediatrics, I want to say we had it easy. The pandemic did not bring high volumes. We didn't start seeing an increase in respiratory viruses until the mask mandate was taken away in June of 2021. That is when the influx really started. And we had never seen RSV in the summertime. Having to adjust to higher volumes and unexpected was difficult and challenging.

Jacob Wells
"I just want to make sure everybody hears working in pediatrics is extremely rewarding," said Kreher. "We love what we do. We have been here a very long time and don't want to go anywhere else to do the work we do."

Successes and challenges this year

Yates: The most rewarding [thing] is when our team members are acknowledged and celebrated in it. At the end of the day, they're always acknowledged and celebrated for making life better for children, which is our mission, right? They're giving this amazing patient care, where they've created a space where the patient and the family feel safe, feel supported and feel well taken care of.

Kreher: I view my job as a marathon. I love to run, so it's not a bad thing that I'm running a marathon every day. Remembering to take time for self care is challenging.

Yates: It's so important for any role to take a moment each and every day to remember why you're there. What's your passion, your mission, your purpose. And have some mental clarity and some time for yourself so that you can still continue to do it to day after day and combat that burnout.

The bottom line is...we want to do the best for you and your family. That's the whole point. That's why we show up every day. That's why we're there. Sometimes there are constraints to that, which may be capacity, that could be wait [time], it could be anything. So just be patient with us as we try to be patient with you, and give each other grace.

Got a tip? Email Elena Rivera at You can follow Elena on Twitter @elenaiswriting.

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Elena Rivera is the health reporter at KERA. Before moving to Dallas, Elena covered health in Southern Colorado for KRCC and Colorado Public Radio. Her stories covered pandemic mental health support, rural community health access issues and vaccine equity across the region.