Banner, Dignity Health hospitals restricting visitors due to RSV, flu risk

Several hospitals will be requiring masks and not allowing visitors under the age of 13 in nurseries or nursery intensive care units.
Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 5:34 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2022 at 9:57 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Beginning Monday, Banner Health and Dignity Health are implementing visitor restrictions at hospital locations due to increased risks of flu and RSV cases. Masks will be required, and there will be restrictions for children under 13 years old.

The following restrictions are in place for Banner Health:

  • Restricting visitors if they have a fever, cough, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • All visitors over age 2 are required to wear a mask over their nose and mouth for the duration of their visit
  • Restricting visitors under the age of 13. Siblings who do not have cold and flu symptoms may visit a new baby in the Obstetrics unit or Pediatric unit. That child may be screened for illness by staff before being allowed to visit.
  • Children, including siblings, will not be allowed to visit the NICU
  • Children 12 and under must be supervised by an adult at all times in public waiting areas and cafeterias.
  • Visitors are highly encouraged to wash or sanitize their hands frequently while at the hospital to prevent getting the flu or potentially spreading any illness.

“While we understand visitor restrictions can be difficult, they are necessary to prevent the spread of flu and other respiratory viruses within our hospitals,” said Joan Ivaska, senior director of infection prevention at Banner Health. RSV is a seasonal respiratory virus that has arrived in Arizona ahead of schedule. Public health officials also believe that this year’s flu season will be more intense than in years past.

This morning, two other major Arizona hospitals also announced they will be implementing new restrictions to ensure patient and staff safety. Dignity Health Chandler Regional and Mercy Gilbert Medical Centers are not allowing guests or visitors under the age of 13 inside the hospital nurseries and nursery intensive care units. The Arizona Department of Health Services has reported 2,578 cases since the beginning of October. “We certainly see this being spread a lot in schools and daycares,’ said Valley pediatrician Gary Kirkilas.

Kirkilas says RSV starts as a runny nose and fever but can take a turn very quickly. He suggests parents pay close attention if their kids get sick. “Especially less than two years of age, and especially less than one, if your child starts to do something called belly breathing, where they look really out of breath or fatigued or miserable, then those are all warning signs that you need to go to the emergency room.”

As of data gathered on Nov. 9 in Maricopa County, there are around 521 active cases of influenza flu and RSV for 2022-2023. So far, there have been no deaths. The department has declared a regional outbreak of influenza and said that less than half of Arizona counties have tracked cases. To check out the tracker, click here. At a national level, more than 6,400 individuals were hospitalized this week due to the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Banner Health officials are encouraging everyone to get their flu and COVID-19 shot in anticipation for the winter. It takes around two weeks for full protection against the flu virus. To learn more about Banner Health, click here.