Written by Gearhart and Associates, LLC. for STARC Systems, Inc. Gearhart and Associates are industry experts in Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) training, Infection Control and Prevention Strategies, and Facilities Risk Management.
Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) are a major safety concern for healthcare providers, staff, and patients. With morbidity, mortality, increased length of stay and cost, every effort to prevent these infections in hospitals should be made. An Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) must include identifying patients at risk of nosocomial infections and implementing protocols to reduce transmission.
Patients have three principal defenses against infection:
Physical defenses: This refers to the body’s natural barriers (skin, mucous membranes, tears, stomach acid, etc).
Nonspecific immune responses: This refers to the immune system which uses white blood cells and antibodies to eliminate organisms that break through the natural barriers and are perceived to be harmful.
Specific immune responses: This refers to when the immune system which uses white blood cells and antibodies that recognize and target specific infectious threats that break through the natural barriers. Specific immunity involves the activation of T helper lymphocytes that recognize unique antigens.
Changes in these defenses determine the patient’s susceptibility to infection.
Infection Control Protocols For Healthcare Construction Projects
The development of ICRA protocols for healthcare projects is vital to the success of decreasing the spread of infection and protecting patients during remediation, renovation, and reconstruction.
Every project should have a clear system in place, the most effective infection control tools (temporary containment and vetted disinfection products), and the knowledge to handle situations as they arise; the spread of infection being a major problem throughout the healthcare space.
The steps in these infection control protocols should include:
- Isolated and controllable space
- Room ventilation / Air Control
- Proper cleaning and disinfection (equipment, products, methods, etc…)
- Monitoring the entire process
Isolated and Controllable Space
One of the key components to reducing the spread of infection during a facility’s renovation project (often due to damage from fire, water, smoke, etc.) is for protocols to include the utilization of temporary containment walls.
There are the two reasons for temporary containment:
- Isolation of high-risk areas for renovation g projects to decrease the risk of spreading infection. (These systems have been associated with a decrease in cross-transmission).
- Minimize the disruptions of operations outside of the contained space during each phase of work.
Temporary containment is used to isolate high-risk areas for remediation of dangerous pathogens, mold, and to eliminate dust and debris. In the case of water damage, mold poses a high risk to patients and must be contained immediately. Restoration companies and general contractors brought in for repairs need the ability to work within a contained space to address the renovation needs of the healthcare space while not posing a risk to patients.
Healthcare facilities MUST be able to continue in daily operations while remediation and renovation take place. Temporary containment allows for contractor and restoration companies to move forward in repairs quickly and give staff members the ability to treat patients without interruption.
Once it is determined that an isolated space is needed, next steps in an ICRA include:
- Isolation of HVAC
- Erect barrier/temporary containment
- Attain negative pressure
- Perform remediation
Eliminating Risks with Disinfection
Disinfection is a very important part of the protocol. This includes utilizing vetted disinfection products/technologies to eliminate potential risk. Once the remediation and rebuild is complete, the protocol must include steps for disinfection of the equipment used, as the risk for infection is still active.
Lower the Risk
Enable your team to navigate and manage the diverse challenges in today’s infection control risk management by understanding isolated controllable spaces, the development of effective protocols, and equipping them with the most effective technology.
Systems like the STARC Temporary Containment System Walls are the preferred solution for healthcare facilities, renovation companies, and general contractors when implementing an effective ICRA. This system can be quickly installed, dismantled and minimizes the disruptions from renovations thus improving patient and employee satisfaction, It is reusable and easily relocated to other areas providing maximum flexibility for most remediation and renovation situations.