Swine flu doesn't make for good times

Having to utter the words "emergency room" is almost never good. And when the sentence also involves your kid, it's even worse.

Such was the case for me recently when I took my seven-year-old kid to the ER at Rose Medical Center after the fever he'd had for two days spiked to 103 degrees -- even after giving him Tylenol.

The scene there was straight out of a CNN story on swine flu. Kids slumped over in chairs wearing surgical masks. Their parents, brows furrowed, also in masks. Sure there was a guy in a tux with a bleeding jaw and a couple of other classic ER cases, but for the most part, there were a bunch of kids with suspected cases of H1N1.

Turns out that a whopping 25 percent (that's one kid in a mask for every three bleeding dudes in tuxedos) of all patients who've gone to one of HealthONE's eight emergency rooms in the Denver area over the past week, including Rose, had flu symptoms.

"This is a sizeable increase from ER flu volumes the prior two weeks when only 10 percent of all ER patients had flu symptoms. For children brought to our ERs, the percentages are much higher," the hospital company said in a statement.

It's so bad, in fact, that HealthONE is recommending that no one under eighteen should even visit a hospital unless they are a patient.

There, maybe that will make you start using the hand sanitizer.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes