The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the public health system, but it has also brought with it a multitude of valuable lessons about infection prevention and control. In a recent issue of Health Facilities Management, an article titled Space planning for pandemic resilience highlighted new hospital design and planning strategies developed in response to COVID that will better prepare facilities for future pandemics and curb hospital-acquired infections (HAI)s.
An excerpt from the article states:
“If there is a silver lining to the current situation, it is that the renewed dedication to infection prevention may continue to help health care facilities in their fight against health care-associated infections (HAIs).
Although tragically dwarfed by COVID-19 deaths, largely preventable HAIs in clinics and nursing homes as well as hospitals may decline due to the facility investments and design strategies used to combat a pandemic.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 31 hospital patients have a healthcare-acquired-infection (HAI) at any given time, a number that is even more threatening in the context of a highly transmissible virus such as COVID-19.
Some of the effective design solutions for reducing HAI risk outlined in the article include:
- More negative pressure rooms and units
- Separating care areas into infectious and noninfectious zones
- Providing staff with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Utilizing outdoor spaces for patient testing and sorting
- Designing additional walk-in entrances for patients suspected of being contagious
- Separating elevator shafts into single vertical elements to eliminate cross-contamination, with specific elevators designated for clean and others for soiled/infected materials and individuals
- Shifting imaging and reading spaces out of the hospital
- Designing self-contained nursing units for contagious patients
- Utilizing sliding doors for patient rooms to minimize the airflow disruption
- Turning to removable rather than fixed-room elements such as visitor sleeping couches and the patient wardrobe
In addition to these design innovations and alterations, it is imperative that healthcare systems improve the monitoring and managing of airborne infection risk throughout their entire facilities. There are several gaps in the current system for air balancing and testing in healthcare facilities, including the fact that most airborne infection control reports only measure the “critical areas” of a building—which typically amount to 15-20% of the facility.
Life Balance Technologies seeks to address these gaps with a revolutionary software solution, called KPac, that helps healthcare systems more effectively understand their infection control standards and possible risks—saving money and saving lives down the road. Contact us today to learn more about this revolutionary software.