The first influenza death in Larimer County occurred Jan. 4 at Poudre Valley Hospital when a Wyoming resident died of a flu-related illness.
So far this flu season, which began Dec. 1, 186 patients diagnosed with influenza have been treated in the emergency rooms at PVH in Fort Collins and Medical Center of the Rockies, Loveland, and UCHealth clinics in Larimer and Weld counties.
Paul Poduska, PVH’s infection preventionist, stands in front of a large sign at the hospital that asks patients, visitors and employees in English and Spanish to please (por favor) put on a protective mask if they have flu symptoms. Similar signs are located through PVH, Medical Center of the Rockies and associated clinics.
Paul Poduska, PVH’s infection preventionist, said 88 percent of the 186 patients had not been inoculated with the flu vaccine.
“So far, the vaccine has been right on,” Poduska said. “We strongly recommend that people get a flu shot.”
As of Thursday, PVH had 16 flu patients hospitalized. MCR had 19 hospitalized, three with severe-enough flu issues to put them in the intensive care unit.
Vaccination of staff
UCHealth recently completed its annual flu vaccinations of staff members in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming, including employees at PVH, MCR and Colorado Health Medical Group.
All but eight employees out of the 5,529 staff members were vaccinated or received an exemption for medical or religious reasons. The eight temporarily exempted, unvaccinated employees are off work due to medical or other issues. They are expected to be vaccinated or become exempted when they return to work, Poduska said.
Staff members who receive exemptions—there were 192—are required to wear protective masks when they provide patient care or are in areas where patients and visitors congregate, such as waiting rooms, lobbies and hospital cafeterias.
“This may become a rugged flu season,” Poduska said. “Having our staff protected against influenza is an effective way to help contain any flu bug that might piggyback in with patients and visitors.”
UCHealth is a Front Range health system that delivers the highest quality patient care with the highest quality patient experience. UCHealth combines Memorial Health System, Poudre Valley Hospital, Medical Center of the Rockies, Colorado Health Medical Group (formerly Poudre Valley Medical Group), and University of Colorado Hospital into an organization dedicated to building a healthier community and providing unmatched patient care in the Rocky Mountain West. Separately, these institutions can continue providing superior care to patients and service to the communities they serve. Together, they push the boundaries of medicine, attracting more research funding, hosting more clinical trials and improving health through innovation.