MINNEAPOLIS - The flu bug continues to bite across Minnesota, triggering more absences from school and work.

Things are to the point that the flu is also making an impact on visitor policies at some Twin Cities hospitals as well.

Fairview Health Services is acting to stem the spread of the flu virus, implementing temporary visitor policies in its hospitals to reduce patient and employee exposure. The temporary policies will take effect Thursday and will last the duration of the flu season. The step was taken after the Minnesota Department of Health declared influenza to be widespread in the state.

Hospitals impacted by the policy change include Fairview hospitals are Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville, Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, Fairview Northland Medical Center in Princeton, Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital and University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview in Minneapolis, and Fairview Range Medical Center in Hibbing.

Fairview officials ask that you do not visit the hospital if you may have the flu or if you have close contact with someone who is sick. In addition, Fairview hospitals will:

  • Screen visitors for influenza-like symptoms or exposure to others with such symptoms. Visitors with influenza or exposure may not visit.
  • Limit visitors to 5 years and older.
  • Instruct patients and visitors on hand hygiene, limiting surfaces touched and use of Personal Protective Equipment.

The hospitals will make exceptions to the visitor rules on a case-by-case basis, for compassionate reasons.

"Visitors play an important role in the comfort, care, healing and well-being of our patients," says Steve Meisel, PharmD, CPPS, Fairview director of patient safety. "At the same time, our patients may be particularly vulnerable to contracting the flu and, if they do, it could set back their recovery. We believe these restrictions will safely balance both of these needs."

Notification of hospital visitor restrictions is posted at facility entrances, on hospital websites and in waiting areas.