Apply lessons from this discipline to create safer care environments for your patients.
While many physicians' offices have instituted distancing measures and increased the frequency of disinfecting heavily used surfaces, few have communicated new policies to address air quality. As healthcare providers continue to seek effective tools to prevent further spread of a highly contagious respiratory virus, practices are learning how air quality affects infection control, and ways air-quality technology can strengthen their disinfecting processes and procedures.
While there is no single authority on best practices to establish a safe environment within the physician's office in the age of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has periodically updated its interim recommendations to healthcare providers for routine infection prevention and control practices during the pandemic. This guidance includes a section titled "Optimize the Use of Engineering Controls and Indoor Air Quality," which refers to physical barriers, proximity considerations, and a building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
In the past, physicians may have given little thought to air quality in their offices or dismissed the use of advanced mechanical systems, filtration, and related technologies as prohibitively expensive. But COVID-19 is forcing a change in the way healthcare professionals think about infection prevention in buildings, and innovative practices are introducing air-quality improvements into their cleaning and sanitation strategies.
This includes the use of next generation purifiers or portable HEPA filtration units to augment air quality where permanent air-handling options are unfeasible. By using next-generation air and surface disinfecting purifiers physicians can remove fine particles as well as destroy harmful contaminants throughout an enclosure, by recreating oxidation and ionization processes found in natural sunlight. This turns the oxygen and humidity in a room into super oxide ions and hydroperoxides, essentially transforming the air into a cleaning agent.
Products on the market today may combine ultraviolet light with electrostatic screens, low-micron filters, and other advancements to produce outstanding results. But today’s more advanced air-purifiers have been shown to remove more than 99% of airborne and surface contaminants, killing pathogens on contact and destroying microorganisms in the air and on surfaces.
Long a fixture in hospitals and surgical centers, air purifiers have grown increasingly affordable as manufacturers have scaled models to suit a variety of applications, including clinics, skilled nursing centers and other businesses across industries. This makes them an attractive upgrade for the physician's office at a time when budgets may have been stained by months of limited operations.
When leveraging the use of these purifying systems, organizations should also consider other ventilation problem areas to address that will improve the air quality in their space. This includes:
Air-quality improvements offer an effective means of demonstrating a practice's commitment to protecting patients and employees, while giving them peace of mind. Practice leaders who follow the CDC's guidelines and consult with professionals will likely identify opportunities for immediate air-quality improvement and can plan to address less-pressing needs over time.
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