A surge in sick children exposed a need for major changes to U.S. hospitals

“Dad, I can’t breathe.”

That’s how Dr. Marc Auerbach’s 8-year-old son woke him up one night last year.

Their family was on vacation in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York – hours from Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, where Auerbach works in pediatric emergency medicine.

Like so many parents whose children have become seriously ill with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), Auerbach recognized that high-pitched, wheezing sound his son was making. It was a sign his airway was becoming obstructed. He knew they needed to go to the nearest emergency department, right away.

But as Auerbach loaded his son into the car and started driving through the dark mountain roads, he had no idea if the local ED would be fully equipped to treat his child.

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