With three little ones at home, Lesley McCaslin's family has been no stranger to illness this summer. She said the family had visited the pediatrician multiple times in recent months for her toddler’s and infant’s colds.
Still, when four-month-old Harrison had a runny nose and got fussy a couple of weeks ago, she felt the need to schedule another appointment.
“I guess just kind of that mom instinct, and they tested her for RSV and she was positive. And at that point, she was still doing okay,” said McCaslin.
The next morning, Harrison seemed like herself. McCaslin was even tempted to cancel a follow-up appointment thinking it was no longer needed, but her mom, a retired nurse, convinced her otherwise.
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By that afternoon, Harrison took a turn for the worse.
"It was that quick. That morning the baby was fine. By the time we went to the doctor that afternoon, her oxygen was so low that they rushed us to the hospital,” she said.
After a long wait in a busy ER at Children’s Health, McCaslin said they were admitted.
The next day, her baby was upgraded to the ICU.
"I look back at it and I look back at the videos of her breathing and how hard she was having to work, and I think God protects you from what you can't fully handle. And I think I was in mom mode of just, she's going to be ok and what do I need to do next to protect my baby,” said McCaslin.
McCaslin watched and waited to see if Harrison would have to be intubated as doctors and nurses continued to increase the amount of oxygen she was receiving.
Thankfully, after three days in the ICU, a nurse woke her at 4:30 a.m. to move them back to a regular room. Harrison’s oxygen levels had improved, and the ICU bed was needed for the next patient.
“One of the nurses said, it’s like Christmas in July and not in a good way,” said McCaslin.
With pediatric hospital occupancy teetering around 93%, the DFW Hospital Council said the region is battling both an uptick in COVID-19 cases among younger patients and an unusual summer surge of RSV.
Though as of Tuesday, only two staffed pediatric hospital beds remained available across the region, the Hospital Council said pediatric hospitals are nimble and prepared to make operational shifts to create more space if needed.
"It's terrifying. You definitely start to wonder, is there going to be room for my child if something were to happen? Is there going to be room for us if something were to happen? That's a really scary thought,” said McCaslin.
Now back home, Harrison is on the mend, and Mccaslin's telling other parents, especially right now, it's ok to be overconcerned.
"I really thought I'm overreacting. How many times am I going to show up to the doctor's office this summer with a summer cold? And thank God, I did,” said McCaslin.
Her two-year-old also tested positive for RSV but recovered quickly as it tends to be more serious for infants.
For babies, symptoms can include cough, wheezing, rapid breathing, a runny nose, congestion and fever.