Hospitals set up separate waiting areas for flu patients

Doctors: Flu outbreak likely to get worse

DENVER - In response to a spike in flu cases, some Colorado hospitals are taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

At Swedish Medical Center, patients are greeted with signs that tell people will flu-like symptoms to stop and use hand sanitizer.

"We've seen a big spike in flu cases in the past two or three weeks," said Dr. Sue Chilton, an Emergency Department physician at Swedish. 

It is bad enough that the hospital now has a separate waiting area for patients with flu-like symptoms, complete with face masks, hand sanitizer and a reverse air-flow fan.

"We try to do that so other people in the waiting room for other things, GI illness, fractures or anything else, aren't exposed any more than they would be in the general population," Chilton said.

Tuesday afternoon, Denver Health Medical Center also opened a separate sick bay for flu sufferers.

State health officials report a jump in flu cases, with at total of 506 people hospitalized so far this season. Last year, the entire flu season saw only 543 hospitalizations.

Dr. Michelle Barron with the University of Colorado Hospital said that the flu shot is the best method of prevention, but it only prevents the virus 60 to 80 percent of the time.

"Still, if you get the flu shot and still get the flu, it will probably be a milder case than if you hadn't got the flu shot at all," said Barron.


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