Children’s hospitals are struggling to cope with a surge of respiratory illness

Waiting for their turn in the ER, dazed-looking parents in winter coats bounce crying children in their arms, trying to catch the eye of Dr. Erica Michiels. Us! Pick us next! they seem to plead with tired eyes.

Michiels directs pediatric emergency medicine at Corewell Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Lips pressed together in a thin line, she surveys what she calls the “disaster” area.

“People have been out here waiting for a couple hours, which is heartbreaking,” she says.

Typically, the ER at Devos Children’s sees about 140 kids each day, according to Michiels, but on a recent Tuesday in mid-December, they saw 253.

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