Cleanliness is always of the utmost importance when it comes to hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Hospital-acquired infections (also known as healthcare-associated infections, or HAI) are a very real danger. However, clean and sanitary facilities can cut down the risk of them considerably. During the coronavirus pandemic, though, this goal has taken on an even greater significance. Some experts from the University of North Carolina detailed some strategies that hospitals and other healthcare facilities are implementing to combat the spread of COVID-19.
An Effective Disinfectant at an Increased Frequency
Emily Sickbert-Bennett, PhD, director of UNC Medical Center Infection Prevention, says that COVID-19 “is actually one of the easiest pathogens to eliminate with disinfection”. It’s important, though, that janitorial staffs are using a hospital and EPA-approved disinfectant. Furthermore, these staffs are cleaning more often than they were prior to the pandemic. For example, UNC Health’s Environmental Services team is disinfecting areas like the emergency department, lobbies, waiting rooms, restrooms, and hallways every two hours. In addition to the usual sweeping and mopping, they’re also paying special attention to high-touch areas like countertops and chairs.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities take steps to separate COVID-19-positive patients from other patients. This helps to reduce the spread of the virus. Dr. Sickbert-Bennett speaks of screening processes integrated with electronic medical record systems. These measures can alert staff and keep track of patients with COVID. Hospitals are also taking extra steps to separate patients in the emergency room.
Patients in hospitals often need to be moved from one area of the facility to another. Accordingly, healthcare facilities are implementing extra steps to ensure their safety. For example, after taking a patient from a testing lab to their room, UNC Health staff returns the stretchers or wheelchairs to a new cleaning station in their equipment storage area where they get a thorough disinfection.
While these steps were designed to reduce the spread of coronavirus, many are bound to become the new norm as hospitals learn to provide a safer environment more efficiently.