Local doctor leads preparations for a pediatric ICU

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 9:59 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Preparations are underway to address one of the biggest gaps in medical care here in Laredo, and that’s treating critically ill children.

For weeks now, officials and medical experts have been meeting behind closed doors to identify a solution. Now, a team from an out-of-town children’s hospital is here to help.

The highly contagious Delta variant is leading to an increase in pediatric COVID cases across the state, so much so that hospital bed availability is dwindling.

Being that Laredo does not have a pediatric unit, they must transfer patients to Corpus Christi or San Antonio.

But as more kids and teens get sick, the city needs to prepare for the possibility of taking on the care themselves.

“We started to worry personally about the fact that COVID Delta is on the rise, and as I mentioned we’re coming into the winter where other respiratory virus’, not only in Laredo, but across the whole state will be on the rise as well, so what do we do if all the hospital beds fill up and the children are requiring these higher levels of care?” said Doctor Claire Cigarroa.

On Tuesday morning, pediatric cardiologist Dr. Claire Cigarroa stopped by the Digital News Desk to talk about pediatric COVID cases and the emergency preparedness plan.

She told KGNS that a team from Driscoll Children’s Hospital is in town meeting with Laredo Medical Center to assist in identifying infrastructure, supplies, and what is needed to run a functioning pediatric ICU.

“Also going to have nursing staff here become acquainted with the differences in treating an adult COVID patient versus a pediatric COVID patient; we’ll have rooms that are retrofitted with the right technology, so they’re able to be cared for; and we basically are going to make it so should the need arise we can run a fully functional pediatric ICU that is safe.”

Like the doctor mentioned, this unit will only be set up once they can no longer transfer patients out.

“It’s not ideal long term, and I just want everyone to know that this is something that we are all aware of and have been working on and we will continue to work on.”

Cigarroa says she’s confident they can safely care for children in Laredo should the need arise.

As a pediatric cardiologist, Cigarroa says she has extensive training in treating critically ill children in an intensive care unit.

Therefore, she’ll be one of the lead physicians overseeing the pediatric ICU unit once created and utilized.

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