Sky Ridge Medical Center restricts visitors, visiting hours to prevent coronavirus spread

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LONE TREE, Colo. (FOX31) - To combat the spread of the coronavirus, a local hospital is reducing visiting hours and the number of visitors patients can have.

“While it’s great that people have family and friends that are supporting them while they’re sick, it’s also important to not create a huge crowd environment where the coronavirus can jump from person to person,” said Dr. Jason Kelly, the chief medical officer for Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree.

Patients are restricted to one visitor in the hospital at one time between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Visitors are also restricted to fewer entrances and must partake in a screening survey prior to entering the building.

The survey includes questions from nurses and other staff about whether a visitor has been experiencing symptoms like a fever or cough, whether they’ve been in contact with someone who had been diagnosed with coronavirus, and whether they have traveled recently to areas in which the coronavirus is prevalent.

“People are very understanding,” said Kelly. “People have been actually grateful with what we’re doing with the screening and really trying to protect them. I think people really get it.”

Patients entering the hospital with a fever or signs of a respiratory infection will be given a mask and treated as a respiratory isolation patient.

Kelly said no patient at Sky Ridge Medical Center has tested positive for coronavirus yet, but 11 people have tested negative for the illness. He said the restrictions will remain in place for the “foreseeable future.”

“As more testing becomes available, we’re going to realize that there’s a lot of coronavirus out there that doesn’t have any symptoms that is what we would call subclinical. So, I would expect over the next few weeks that coronavirus cases are going to peak pretty significantly, and so we’re going to have those restrictions in place during that time,” he said.

Kelly said the United States has come a long way since the H1N1 pandemic when it comes to preparedness and awareness.

“The response to the coronavirus has been a lot bigger response than we had with H1N1, and I think that’s because we’ve started to learn from these pandemics,” said Kelly. “We had SARS. We had H1N1. So, we’re learning the extent to which these things can spread and really the measures that are necessary to prevent them from spreading.”

In 2009, it took approximately two months for the World Health Organization to declare H1N1 a global pandemic that was spreading to other parts of the world. By that time, the infection had spread to approximately 1 million people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

According to the CDC, H1N1 killed nearly 12,500 people in the United States during the span of the year-long outbreak.  During that time, there were nearly 61 million cases diagnosed in the United States.

“We talk about coronavirus as this scary thing, but all the infection prevention measures both in the hospital and in the community are things that we already know,” said Kelly. “Literally wash your hands. Stay home if you’re sick.”

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