Hospitals Prep for DNC - KUSA TV
September 02, 2008
DENVER - Airports, hotels, restaurants and many other businesses have spent months preparing for the Democratic National Convention. So have hospitals throughout the metro area.
Hospital staffs are trained and prepared to handle any large-scale disaster, as well as some of the common problems that occur when large numbers of people come to our city.
Those problems include dehydration and altitude sickness. In fact many of the local hospitals are offering advice to visitors to avoid such problems. The advice may seem obvious to long-time residents, but could be extremely helpful to someone who has never been to Colorado in August.
First off, Denver is at 5,280 feet above sea level. Most people don't feel the effects of altitude until they get to 7,000 or 8,000 feet. However, people with underlying health conditions or extreme sensitivity to hypoxia may feel the lower oxygen levels during normal daily activities even when in Denver.
Compared to sea level, Denver has 17 percent less oxygen available and many mountain communities have 25 to 30 percent less. Your body has time to adapt to this lack of oxygen, but the process takes some time, usually a couple of days. If you go too high too fast, you're at risk of developing altitude sickness.
The symptoms of altitude sickness include a headache, nausea, difficulty sleeping and fatigue. Symptoms usually improve once your body adapts to the higher elevation, which takes 24 to 36 hours for most people. You need to be patient and most importantly: you need to keep hydrated and take it easy.
Many people feel short of breath at altitude. That is a normal reaction and not a symptom of altitude sickness, unless it occurs while at rest.
If you do make it to the mountains other suggestions include: drink plenty of water (adults need an extra 24 to 32 ounces per day), take it easy, if you smoke; limit your smoking, avoid alcohol and salty foods.
If you know from previous trips that you're prone to altitude problems, there is a prescription medication called Diamox that can accelerate your body's adjustment to altitude and eliminates most of the symptoms.
Besides the altitude visitors are encouraged to be safe in the sun. Bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and again; drink water.
If there is any large-scale medical crisis the Level One Trauma Centers include: Denver Health, St. Anthony Hospital, and Swedish Medical Center.
As for any elective procedures scheduled during the DNC, most hospital representatives say it's business as usual, although some have noticed a light schedule because patients are trying to avoid the congestion in the metro area. If there is any medical crisis, patients will be notified and elective procedures will be canceled.
Another example of the planning efforts: Exempla's three hospitals (St. Joseph, Lutheran and Good Samaritan) are prepared for any emergency with extra staff spending the night at the hospitals and on call.
(Copyright KUSA*TV, All Rights Reserved)