Hospital ramps up restrictions, as flu cases climb in Arizona

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Flu season has not been as bad as we saw last winter, but two weeks ago, there was a spike in flu cases reported to the Arizona Department of Health Services, more than double the number from the previous week.

Now, hospitals in the valley are tightening up on the number of visitors.

"This year we saw our flu season start a little late," said Dr. Nilda Franco, Chief of Hospital Medicine with Banner Health.

Banner Health is putting visitor restrictions in place to start the new year. Officials made the announcement a week ago, but they stress that no one should be alarmed.

"It's pretty standard practice," said Dr. Franco. "We watch the trends every year in our community, and when we see a spike in influenza or other respiratory viruses, we implement the visitor restrictions for the safety of our patients."

So, what are the restrictions? Dr. Franco makes it pretty clear.

"If they are sick with a cough, fever, vomiting or diarrhea, they shouldn't come to the hospital," said Dr. Franco.

The restrictions don't just single out the flu.

"So, RSV is another major one, para-influenza, and any other respiratory viruses," said Dr. Franco.

Banner Health officials say the restrictions will remain in place through the end of March, or until the end of the flu season. CDC officials say the best way to prevent spreading the flu is to wash your hands.