DENVER (KDVR) — Respiratory infections including COVID, RSV and the flu are spreading across Colorado as we reach the later stages of fall, and one of the pinch points is ICU beds for children.

As of the most recent data, there are only two pediatric ICU beds currently available and on some recent occasions there were zero.

“We’re seeing a lot of coordination and movement of patients, but there is extreme stress in the pediatric ICU capacity in the state of Colorado right now,” Scott Bookman, a director with Colorado Department of Public Health, said.

The number of pediatric ICU beds available since August 2021. (Credit: CDPHE)

However, Bookman said, this does not mean children cannot get treatment. He explained how adult medical facilities are working to care for teenagers in their ICUs that would be otherwise treated in a child-focused facility. Neo-natal facilities are making similar adjustments for the youngest children.

“Our hospital systems are working together carefully and closely. They’re making sure that they are expanding capacity in every way possible. We are seeing hospitals that primarily serve adult patients offering up their help to pediatric centers in the state,” he said.

Bookman, the Division of Public Health Response Director, showed a chart during Monday’s news conference of pediatric ICU availability since August 2021. On the chart, the average number of available beds during that time frame is 22, but the actual availability has been below that since late September.

“What we know is that this is just a relatively limited resource to begin with and that the hospitals tend to scale the need for that based on a predictable respiratory season. What we are seeing this season is obviously not typical, and that’s why you’re seeing the efforts that have gone in here,” he said.

The number of adult ICU beds available since the COVID pandemic began in 2020. (Credit: CDPHE)

The number of adult ICU beds available has been relatively consistent since late spring, with 170 beds currently available.

“[Hospitals are] kind of expanding capacity for the pediatric population on both ends to make sure that the need for PICU beds is spread out across the system,” Bookman said.