SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Following the Thanksgiving Holiday, CoxHealth is seeing more people coming in with respiratory viruses.

“Every morning we’re trying to prepare for the influx,” Cox Medical Group Medical Director Dr. Bryan Finke said. “Monday, we set a record in the on patients saying we called in an extra doctor even to handle the patient population on Monday. We have had several patients this week with both COVID and influenza. Those two viruses together are pretty serious, especially in unvaccinated people or someone that hasn’t had COVID in particular for the last six months.”

Not only is the hospital seeing more flu and COVID cases, but also RSV.

“Our pediatric unit has been full to nearly full for a good 3 to 4 weeks now,” Finke said. “We’ve never seen that.”

Finke said the viruses are coming earlier than expected and bringing on stronger symptoms in some people.

“Because we’ve been masking, during COVID and social distancing and been really good about staying away from each other when we’re sick, unfortunately, we’ve kind of taken a one or two-year reprieve from the flu and RSV,” Finke said. “The herd has not been exposed to these viruses.”

To prepare for an uptick in hospitalizations, Cox is working on adding more staff and extending care hours to make sure families get the care they need.

“We’re making sure people are masking in the hospital,” Finke said. “We’re getting staff, we’re having special incentive pay and things like that during this time that we always have really to try to encourage people to work extra for the flu and respiratory season.”

One thing that’s helped Cox is testing patients for four viruses at once.

“It’s allowed us to really categorize patients in the hospital and treat the ones we need to treat pretty quickly,” Finke said.

To avoid hospitalization, Finke said there are a few things patients can do at home.

“It’s important to hydrate,” Finke said. “It’s important to control your fever. So ibuprofen or Tylenol, if you’re not allergic, that’s going to make you feel 50 percent better and it’s going to lower your heart rate. For children, it’s really important to have humidifiers if you can afford one. They’re about $25 or $30 to can humidify the air of the child’s room. And then showers get their nose, runny hydrates, the airways quite a bit.”