Penrose and Memorial agree on visitation rules

Colorado Springs hospitals are working together to prevent the spread of H1N1 swine flu.

Both Penrose-St Francis Health Services and Memorial Health System have agreed on visitor protocols to prevent the flu. People with weak immune systems, women who are pregnant, children younger than 12 or anyone with a fever, cough or sore throat should not visit patients at either hospital.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said the state laboratory has identified eight suspect lab specimens among 66 tests it has conducted for the virus. Of those eight, two were confirmed positive Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The remaining six are pending confirmation.

“Every year, approximately 36,000 Americans die from seasonal flu,” said Dr. Ned Calonge, the state’s chief medical officer. “The rate in Colorado is about 780 deaths per year. We need to understand that the 2009 H1N1 virus could lead to deaths, just as the seasonal flu does.”

Calonge also said there is no reason to be tested for the flu if the symptoms are mild, because the ability to test is limited – and tests must be sent to the CDC for confirmation.

For questions about H1N1 flu, call Ask a Nurse at 776-5555 at Penrose-St. Francis or Memorial HealthLink at 444-CARE. For information about the public health department’s response, call (877) 462-2911.