In response to widespread and increasing rates of influenza and other seasonal illnesses across the nation, Banner Health will implement several visitor restrictions at all of its hospitals.
Effective now, Banner Health will implement the following visitor restrictions:
• Do not visit the hospital if you have a fever, cough, vomiting or diarrhea.
• Please, no visitors under the age of 13.
• Siblings who do not have cold and flu symptoms may visit a new baby on the Obstetrics Unit. Your child may be screened for illness by staff before being allowed to visit.
• 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.

The health and safety of our patients, visitors and employees is a primary concern of Banner Health,” said Joan Ivaska, senior director of infection prevention for Banner Health. “Following these restrictions and procedures will ensure we provide the safest environment possible to receive and provide care.”

All Banner Health employees, employed physicians, volunteers and students received a flu vaccination by Dec. 1 of last year. Those who were unable to receive the vaccination due to medical or religious reasons are required to wear a mask while in care settings (such as hospitals) during the flu season.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the predominant strain of influenza circulating this season is the same virus that caused the 2009 pandemic, Influenza A (H1N1). The H1N1 strain is unique in that in 2009, it caused severe illness and even death in those less than 65 years of age and without underlying health conditions.

The good news is that the H1N1 strain is a part of the seasonal vaccine this year,” Ivaska said. “It’s not too late to get a flu shot, especially since flu season typically runs through March.”

Ivaska urges people to protect themselves from getting ill and spreading germs by such measures as washing their hands thoroughly; using hand sanitizers; covering their mouth when they sneeze or cough by using the crook in their elbow rather than their hands; and wiping down all hard surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes.
Headquartered in Phoenix, Banner Health is one of the largest, nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system manages 24 acute-care hospitals, the Banner Health Network and Banner Medical Group, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services including family clinics, home care and hospice services, and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in seven states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.