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.
Senior Living facilities provide a necessary service for those in need of care and support later in their lives. Unfortunately, the risk for infection outbreaks in these communities increases due to the nature of the occupants. Studies from HHS found that there are between 1 and 3 million HAIs that occur in nursing homes each year, resulting in 150,000 hospitalizations, 388,000 deaths, and up to $2 billion in additional healthcare costs. Senior patients are more susceptible to infection due to weaker immune systems and are at high risk for illness, and in extreme cases, death.
The Challenges of Renovating an Occupied Senior Living Community
There are a number of challenges when it comes to renovating a fully occupied Senior Living Community. Contractors need the ability to renovate the space without disruption to daily operations, complete the project on time, and have an effective method for infection control.
In a recent article in Infection Control Today, Lewis Johnson, CIH, the industrial hygienists at Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL., talks about the need to be vigilant for potential breaches in infection control in construction and renovation projects.
“Each project is unique and this is why it is important to identify the potential infection control issues for each project through an infection control risk assessment (ICRA). There are numerous reports in the literature of healthcare-associated infections related to construction caused by Aspergillus and other pathogenic molds, or waterborne pathogens such as Legionella and Pseudomonas.”
According to the CDC, over 4 million Americans are admitted to or reside in nursing homes and nearly one million reside in assisted living facilities. CDC research shows that an estimated 1 to 3 million infections occur every year in these facilities.
Using ICRA’s Guidelines for Infection Prevention and Control
Infection control protocols and awareness, especially during construction projects, is critical, with pathogens caused by dust posing a high risk for residents and staff. Contractors need to ensure that senior residents and patients are kept safe, both from the area of construction and the risk of infection from renovation work.
ICRA guidelines (developed primarily for the hospital setting) should be utilized in the renovation of Senior Care facilities, as they share many similar characteristics to a hospital. By looking to ICRA guidelines, the contractor can provide protection against infection to susceptible residents.
Contractors need to make it a point to work closely with facility staff to create a strategy, lay out a phasing schedule, and go over protocols that keep the community safe during the project. Any type of construction of a Long-Term Care facility should be subject to rigorous dust containment protocol for the duration.
Using a High-Quality ICRA Containment Barrier System During Construction
Having a mobile and easily dismantled ICRA containment barrier system wall will prove to be effective during each phase of the project. It will allow for occupants to remain in the facility, provide protection against material caused by renovation and safety for residents.
STARC Systems prevents the spread of dust and infectious particles mentioned above that can be harmful. The containment barrier gives the crew the ability to maintain negative air pressure inside the unit and segregate the work area from the rest of the facility. It exceeds ICRA Class IV requirements, can be easily dismantled and moved from phase to phase, and reduces renovation noise up to 50%.
Jeff Skrilow, CR, WLS with Damage Control, Inc. (DCI), a disaster restoration company, had this to say in regards to the STARC System during renovation for a Long-Term Care facility.
“Having the ability to segregate what is known as “hot zone” from the rest of the facility is vital. This requires reliable and advanced systems for containment. STARC makes for not only a professional setting, but it very easy to install, dismantle, and reinstall without any dust or debris. STARC is the tool in our toolbox that is a differentiator for DCI. It’s been a game changer.”