AURORA, Colo. - Dozens of patients and staff members have been sickened by a gastrointestinal infection which is running rampant in one of the buildings at the Children’s Hospital complex in Aurora.
Hospital officials have closed the Gary Pavilion so work crews can scrub down hard surfaces in the building, including windows, with bleach.
They’re also cleaning carpets with a hydrogen peroxide solution.
"We’ve seen an increase in the number of staff and patients with diarrhea and vomiting the past few weeks," said Dr. Christine Nyquist, the hospital’s pediatric infectious disease specialist.
Nyquist said the infection has been ongoing for at least two weeks.
It’s the second time in two years that the hospital has experienced such an outbreak in the pavilion, which houses an inpatient child and adolescent psychiatry program.
Nyquist told 7NEWS that the infection has not spread to the main Hospital.
When asked why there have been two such infections in the pavilion, Nyquist said, "Our setting in Behavioral Health is very much a community family related area where you have kitchens and living rooms, so it’s very easy to spread infections in that environment."
Nyquist said that when people get sick with the intestinal bug, they’re sent home to recuperate.
"They usually recover on their own in two or three days," she said.
Nyquist said the decision to close the Gary Pavilion was made by hospital staff, not by state or county health officials.
The Acting Deputy Director of Tri-County Health, Tom Butts, told 7NEWS that Children’s notified them of the outbreak and that health officials then provided a list of cleaning recommendations and health practices.
Butz said the health department generally doesn’t issue a quarantine order “unless there is a major outbreak of something like pandemic flu or measles,” diseases that have a greater likelihood of causing death.
Hospital officials say they are going beyond the health department’s recommendations with their efforts to stop the spread of the illness.
Those efforts include the extensive cleaning, limited access to the building and a continued emphasis on hand-washing, close monitoring of all patients and staff for symptoms and investigating each case to assure that the illness has not spread.
Some patients who have appointments at the Pavilion are being told to wait.
A limited number of patients, who are not affected by the intestinal bug, are receiving behavioral health treatment in other areas of the complex.
Nyquist said the Gary Pavilion will reopen in stages this week as areas are cleaned.
The pavilion had an outbreak of norovirus in October 2011. Nyquist said that in terms of numbers, the previous outbreak was much more severe.