News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Cook Children's in Fort Worth sees record-high COVID hospitalizations

The sign outside Cook Children's Medical Center.
Miranda Suarez
Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth.

Cook Children's Health Care System in Fort Worth reported a record number of patients admitted with COVID-19 on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Cook Children’s Health Care System had 69 pediatric patients admitted with COVID. The previous high was set last week, when the hospital had 51 COVID patients.

Dr. Bianka Soria-Olmos, a pediatrician at Cook Children's, said high rates of COVID transmission in the region increase the risk for children.

“When the positivity in the community is this high, it’s really hard to shield the vulnerable,” Soria-Olmos said. “In my mind, unfortunately, that’s every child, but in the situation we’re at, it's definitely every child that can’t be vaccinated.”

Most currently admitted patients are not in intensive care units. Nine were in the hospital’s emergency department as of Wednesday.

Soria-Olmos says the highly contagious omicron variant seems to present differently in children compared to other strains of the coronavirus.

“We are seeing more and more kids present with this upper airway inflammation that basically causes them to have difficulties, with inflammation of the upper airway," she said. "It causes a very distinct type of cough. It's a very tight cough that almost sounds like a seal or a barky cough...."

Hospital staff are also seeing high rates of infection. Cook Children’s is following new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), allowing staff who test positive to return to work after five days if they are asymptomatic. Officials say 165 employees are currently out with COVID across the hospital system.

“We are scrambling every day, truly scrambling to look at where we can identify resources to help supplement staffing,” said Cheryl Petersen, vice president and chief of nursing at Cook Children's. “It's difficult. We want all children to have the best care possible, and so wait times are a little longer too.”

Got a tip? Email Haya Panjwani at Follow Haya on Twitter @hayapanjw

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Haya Panjwani is a general assignment reporter for KUT. She also served as a legislative fellow for The Texas Newsroom during the 2021 legislative session.