Banner hospitals in Tucson begin visitor restrictions during flu season

Banner hospitals in Tucson begin visitor restrictions during flu season
Banner Health today has implemented visitor restrictions at Banner-University Medical Center and Banner-University Medical Center South. (Source: Tucson News Now)
Banner Health today has implemented visitor restrictions at Banner-University Medical Center and Banner-University Medical Center South. (Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Planning to visit someone in either of the two Banner hospitals in Tucson, everyone will have to make sure they do not have the flu or some other contagious illness.

On Monday, Dec. 28 Banner Health implemented visitor restrictions at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson and Banner-University Medical Center South.

Here are the restrictions Banner has listed in its news release: 

  • Do not visit the hospital if you have fever, cough, vomiting or diarrhea.
  • No visitors under the age of 13.
  • Siblings who do not have cold and flu symptoms may visit a new baby in the Obstetrics Unit.
  • Children 12 and under must be supervised by an adult at all times in public waiting areas and cafeterias.
  • Please wash or sanitize your hands frequently while at the hospital.

Experts said it has been a slow start to the season in Arizona and all over the west and southwest.

So, before the season really gets going, restrictions have gone up at hospitals all over Tucson.

"A hospitalized patient is at higher flu risk of getting severe flu or even dying from the flu," said Banner UMC Medical Director for Infection Prevention Dr. Sean Elliott.

That is the big reason why, nationally, hospitals do not want anyone visiting patients if the visitor has flu symptoms.

Elliott said hospitals especially do not want children to visit.

"Children under age 13 are a special population who are most likely to be contagious," Elliott said. "Anybody suffering from flu is contagious for two to sometimes three days prior to the fevers. So anybody's contagious without symptoms. However, children are far more likely to have a large - we call it a burden - a large amount of flu and thus are far more contagious than an adult suffering from flu."

Elliott said the rules can be changed only under very special circumstances and with the patient's doctor's permission.

Those who have recently had the flu, Elliott said are probably are no longer contagious after they have been fever-free for at least 48 hours.

Copyright 2015 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.