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Joyce Endee

LRH modifies visitor policy


October 07, 2021
LITTLETON — Littleton Regional Hospital altered its facility-wide visitor policy last week, citing a rapid increase in positive COVID-19 cases in regional schools. Under the new guidelines, no visitors under the age of 18 are allowed on in-patient units, including intensive care, maternity and the medical-surgical unit.

Likewise, children under 18 are no longer allowed to accompany outpatient surgical patients or anyone visiting the LRH Hematology, Infusion Care or Oncology units. However, children can continue to visit pediatric doctor offices located in the medical complex.

"We have definitely seen an increase in community transmission in the last six to eight weeks. We've begun to see a bit of a decline in the number of COVID cases from where we were a couple of weeks ago, but community transmission levels are still significantly high. Right now, we are at or exceeding where we were last winter," noted Chief Nursing Officer Koren Superchi.

According to Superchi, the most significant difference between now and last winter is the age of COVID patients coming to the hospital. She reported a dramatic increase in the number of COVID patients under the age of 18. Yet another increasing demographic is the unvaccinated.

According to state health officials, over 95% of the cases statewide are the Delta variant of coronavirus. Superchi said the interesting factor with the Delta variant is that while it doesn't make people sicker, it is far more contagious than previous versions of the virus.

Local case numbers began rising by the end of July, said Superchi. However, the age group began shifting after local schools went back in session a month later.

Despite the rising rate of community transmission, Superchi said LRH was fairing well with capacity. The hospital has maintained an adequate supply of antiviral and monoclonal antibody medication and performed structural changes to care for COVID patients safely.

"We've had more hospitalized in-patients in the last month than we've had since COVID started. Overwhelmingly, over 90% of our hospitalizations are patients who are unvaccinated," noted Superchi.

When asked what the hospital expected during the upcoming flu season, Superchi said there was some concern about the potential impact on hospitals statewide.

"We didn't see the flu last year, but people weren't going anywhere or attending large events. The combination of COVID and the flu has everyone worried about capacity," said the nursing director.

While the hospital maintains strong masking policies, there are currently no vaccination mandates for its employees. However, Superchi reported that approximately 87 percent of the LRH staff were fully vaccinated at this time.

Superchi remained hopeful that Pfizer vaccine administration could be available to children between the ages of five and 11 as soon as late October or early November.

"We just had a call with state officials this week and have already begun to think about vaccine clinics in area schools. Then we can get children vaccinated whose parents consent," noted Superchi.

Vaccines remain available at the hospital seven days a week. However, specific vaccine clinics are scheduled weekly for Tuesdays and Fridays to help with the hospital's operational flow. Booster doses are also available for anyone that received a second Pfizer dose at least six months ago.

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Salmon Press
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