UCHealth Implements Extra Measures to Protect Patients From Flu, Respiratory Illnesses

Julie Nunley will be taking over the chief nursing officer position at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins.

Flu, RSV and COVID-19 infections all are skyrocketing just as we’re gearing up for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

To protect patients, visitors and staff, UCHealth has implemented additional visitor restrictions at all hospitals and clinics. The following visitor restrictions went into effect this month at all UCHealth clinics and hospitals, including UCHealth’s Greeley Hospital, Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, and Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins.

  • Most patients may have an unlimited number of visitors per day, but no more than 2 visitors or support persons at a time. Visitor hours are from 6 am to 10 pm
  • Visitors under 12 years of age are prohibited from visiting these high-risk areas: all intensive care units, transplant locations, oncology inpatient floors and pediatric units including NICUs and special care nurseries. Restrictions also apply to some units where ICU and oncology patients are being treated.

Wearing a mask is still required.

The guidelines for patients with infectious diseases, including COVID-19, remain unchanged as well. One visitor or support person at a time, once per day for up to 2 hours may be permitted. Any authorized visitor must wear full personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times, as instructed by UCHealth staff.

“We are officially in respiratory viral season. That includes everything you can think of from the common cold to more severe illnesses, and it has begun with a vengeance,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control for UCHealth and one of the top infectious disease experts in Colorado.

“Sometimes we have a slow start to the respiratory season. Not this year,” Barron said. “We went from nothing to hundreds of cases in a very short time frame.”

Barron encourages Coloradans to get their flu shot if they haven’t gotten it already. For those older than 65, there’s a high-dose vaccine that’s shown to be actually more potent and has more protection against the flu. Also, the bivalent booster for COVID-19 is available and still very effective. It takes two weeks for these vaccines to be fully effective. And since the holidays are approaching, now is a great time to get one or both of the vaccines at the same time to protect yourself.

Barron also is advising people who are sick to avoid large gatherings.

“Use your common sense. If you’re sick, you don’t want to give your illness to grandma and grandpa. At the end of the day, the goal is to still be able to do things and enjoy the holidays. Just do it in a way that doesn’t impact others badly,” said Barron.

Her guidance is straightforward and familiar to most people since this is the third holiday season since the pandemic began in early 2020.

Barron’s tips to stay healthier over the 2022 holidays: 

  • Get vaccinated to prevent COVID-19 and the flu. (There’s no vaccination yet to prevent RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), but there may be one for pregnant women soon.)
  • Stay home from work, holiday gatherings, and parties if you’re sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Wear a mask in crowded indoor settings.
  • Test yourself or go to your doctor’s office to get tested if you are sick. If you test positive, there are therapies that can help people early in the course of a COVID-19 or flu illness.
  • Seek emergency medical care immediately if you or your child can’t breathe or you are experiencing any other kind of medical emergency.
  • Get preventive care like regular vaccines for children and adults and keep current on medications for chronic illnesses like diabetes.

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