Tech tricks that could prevent future COVID-19 outbreaks in your healthcare organization
| May 10, 2021
Even as the COVID-19 pandemic finally seems to be showing signs of slowing down, you know as a hospital administrator or physician that you still can't take your eye off the ball in terms of prevention strategy.
One of your top priorities will be stopping any further coronavirus spread in your facility until herd immunity and/or highly controlled case counts have been reached in your region, so you need up-to-date solutions your staff can swiftly and easily implement. The following cutting-edge techniques can mean simplified and highly effective infection control for your organization. These easy-to-implement procedures, which are also extremely cost-efficient, can protect your patients and staff better than ever before.
Try these "hospital hot spot hacks:"
Use the power of UV light.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University report that COVID-19 can be immediately killed in surfaces through disinfection with ultraviolet light-emitting diodes, or as they're more commonly known, UV-LEDs. In the study, "UV-LED disinfection of Coronavirus: Wavelength effect," inexpensive LEDs can easily be installed in hospital rooms and will almost instantly sterilize the air pulled into the room before it can disperse virus.
The team found that a wavelength of 285 nanometers (nm) was almost as efficient in disinfecting the virus as a wavelength of 265 nm. This means COVID can be eliminated in less than 30 seconds from an environment, using a reasonably priced bulb that's easy to find and purchase.
Also, the LED approach proved to be much more effective in terms of killing the virus than sprayed disinfectant, which has to dry on surfaces to be fully efficient. Eventually, the researchers say that this LED technology can be incorporated into ventilation systems and air conditioners for even more room coverage.
One caveat: patients should not be encouraged to try this technology at home, because it can be hazardous outside of the hospital — let them know that, and have your tech teams thoroughly research the technology to see if it's right for your facility.
Take carbon dioxide measurements.
A new study published last month by researchers from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and the University of Colorado at Boulder finds that simple CO2 monitoring throughout an indoor space can give a real-time measurement of how much virus might be the air and be potentially infectious.
This happens because people exhale COVID-19 at the same time as they exhale carbon dioxide. Zhe Peng and Jose L. Jimenez, in their study "Exhaled CO2 as a COVID-19 Infection Risk Proxy for Different Indoor Environments and Activities," used currently available carbon dioxide monitors to create a math model that can easily be used by facility staff to determine how inhalation and exhalation, ventilation, and the activity in a space, such as talking loudly or performing heavy physical activity, can determine specific virus levels in that room.
This information can then be used to keep track of elevated risk in virtually any part of a healthcare facility. Take a deeper dive into their research with your hospital's affiliated physician-scientists and apply relevant findings to your building's populated areas in real time.
Making easy ventilation switches.
A March 2021 study from Florida Atlantic University scientists, "Aerosol generation in public restrooms," found that flushing a toilet can disperse a big amount of viral microbes into the air, including from COVID-19. Because of this, patient bathrooms can conceivably become highly infectious areas, as can any other restroom in your hospital.
Infectious COVID droplets escaped into the air when the toilet was flushed most readily if it didn't have a lid, although aerosolized droplets were also shown to disperse via gaps between the cover and the seat. The simple solution: redirecting the airflow in your facility's bathrooms so that ventilation is plentiful, which cuts the risk of transmission, and doesn't require a full overhaul of your room layouts. This, plus education outreach that could involve posting notices instructing patients, staff and the general public to quickly turn and exit after flushing a toilet, are simple fixes that can have great impacts.
The bottom line: cutting current COVID-19 risk for your patients and staff doesn't have to be complex. Significant protection can result from immediate, low-tech changes — make them wisely, now and for the foreseeable future.
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