San Antonio nurse working in pediatric ICU shares experience of working on frontlines during COVID-19 surge

Children under the age of one to teens have been treated for COVID-19 at University Hospital.

SAN ANTONIO – A nurse at University Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit says it has been difficult watching children suffer from COVID-19 as the surge of cases continues in Bexar County.

“Kids who are having fevers 103 to 104. You’re talking about weakness, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing,” said Rudy Martinez, a registered nurse.

The children’s age range at the pediatric ICU is from infant to teen.

“They’re healthy kids who were probably doing a normal day of having fun with their friends and going out and playing and stuff like that who actually can’t breathe in some ways and who are having a lot of anxiety,” Martinez said.

The hospital has had patients as young as 6 months old hospitalized with COVID-19, Martinez said.

“In the past, we saw patients who are asymptomatic coming in, and they were just going to swab, and they happen to be positive. But now we’re actually seeing patients come in with COVID itself, COVID symptoms,” Martinez said.

Martinez said doctors are prescribing breathing treatments and medication.

Hospitals are also treating kids for RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, which is a common cause of cold-like symptoms but can be serious for infants and the elderly.

“We think maybe the fact that last year we didn’t see it as much because everybody was wearing a mask, and this year, we’re starting to see it once the mask mandate came down,” Martinez said.

Martinez is concerned if we continue on this path, the number of hospitalizations may worsen.

“I think it’s going to cause a big strain on the hospital itself, on our pediatric floors,’ Martinez said.

The CDC says everyone 12 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Martinez said there are other ways to keep children safe.

“Wearing a mask, keeping a distance, using a hand sanitizer, washing your hands, being aware of the things you do in the community itself,” Martinez said.

About the Authors:

Tiffany Huertas is a reporter for KSAT 12 known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.