DALLAS — Influenza activity is classified as "widespread" across Texas, according to state health officials.
With the rise in illnesses comes an increase in parents who are faced with the dilemma of calling in sick to stay home with an ill child.
"Like every time I coughed, my chest would hurt," said 11-year-old Matthew Delong, who woke up with a fever. "And I had a headache."
But Matthew's mom isn't tending to him today. Neither is his dad.
Workers at KidMed, near Texas Health Dallas Hospital, are taking over Matthew's health needs for the day. KidMed is a day care center for mildly ill children.
"Like mild fever, strep throat, if they've started their antibiotics," explains Shiloh Morris, a certified nursing assistant. "The flu, stomach bugs, upper GI bugs where they've been vomiting or have diarrhea."
Nurses and trained nursing assistants monitor conditions of their young patients throughout the day.
"We separate them due to illnesses," Morris explained. "Like if they have a stomach bug, we keep the stomach bug in one room, the flu in one room, the fever in one room. That's how we make sure of it. And we do lots and lots and lots of handwashing."
The fridge is stocked with the gentle foods, like Jello and Gatorade, which suits Mathew Delong just fine.
"They got games, a TV, snacks... everything a kid needs," he said.
There are now at least three facilities in North Texas catering to working parents with sick kids. Texas Health Dallas, Texas Health Plano, and Medical City Dallas all have similar programs with services available to the general public.
KidMed Dallas accepts children 6 weeks to 15 years old, from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Expect to pay $12 an hour, with a four-hour minimum.