Indoor Air Quality In Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities

Surgeons walking through hospital hallway

Going beyond the deep clean

A year into the pandemic, the evidence is now clear. The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted predominantly through the air — by people talking and breathing out large droplets and small particles called aerosols. Catching the virus from surfaces — although plausible — seems to be rare.1

Cleaning surfaces and disinfecting areas where people touch counters, railings, door handles and so on, is an important step in the ongoing health of any building. What needs to change though, is the focus on spending large amounts on deep cleaning practices, rather than tackling the quality of the air in healthcare facilities.

Recent cases confirmed in hotel quarantine in Melbourne highlighted how the virus can be transmitted across a hallway without any common surfaces being touched. Epidemiologists have repeatedly raised concerns that Australia isn't taking aerosol transmission seriously enough, after a number of suspected cases within quarantine hotels in Victoria and elsewhere.2 

Epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws,3  says a lack of airflow in hotel corridors is a risk to staff.  And although this relates to hotels, our healthcare organisations can definitely learn from this costly lesson by tackling the air quality in their facilities, without the potentially expensive deep cleaning bills.

Although many patients turned to Telehealth consultations in 2020, according to the president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Harry Nespolon, "about 60 per cent, or the majority of consultations, still involve the patient coming in and seeing the doctor, for really obvious reasons.”4

So how can healthcare facilities, including medical clinics, allied health consulting rooms, day surgery and GP clinics, improve air quality for the safety of staff, healthcare professionals and patients?

IAQ Ventilation is not about impractical solutions such as replacing entire legacy systems in old hospital buildings. We find the best, most cost effective solution for our clients, such as retrofitting simple systems to get the best outcomes.

Our aim is healthy buildings, and providing a way to do that without unnecessary expense or disruption to day to ay operations of taking care of patients. 

Air Ventilation, Cleaning, Monitoring and Maintaining Healthy Buildings

Managers within healthcare facilities have a duty of care to their patients, contractors and suppliers who enter their premises, as well as staff and allied health professionals who work along side them. Providing clean, ventilated and well managed indoor air promotes health, productivity, comfort, and peace of mind. We recommend the WELL Building Standard® as a framework for advancing health and wellbeing in buildings across all industries, including healthcare.

The WELL Building Standard® is an evidence-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and well-being,and the standard that IAQ Ventilation adhere to in our consultations with clients, as well as the products we stock and endorse.

According to WELL resources from July 2020, air quality is crucial to combating the spread of disease, along with handwashing efforts and cleaning protocols. Viruses—specifically COVID-19—can stay airborne for up to three hours and without proper ventilation the risk of transmission increases6.

It is recommended by the WELL Building Standard® that buildings have ventilation and filtration strategies in place7 to:

  • avoid mould that can result in respiratory diseases,
  • avoid air stagnation that can result in airborne viruses,
  • increase ventilation to reduce the risk of influenza,
  • and maintain relative humidity to between 40-60% to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Implementing an integrated system of air quality alongside cleaning protocols in healthcare facilities is a longer term solution than a short term fix of deep cleaning. We recommend  continuously cleaning the air, offering a long term solution without the high cost and disruption to daily running of the clinic.

Implementing Better Air Quality Systems

How can healthcare facilities do this?

There are a number of ways healthcare facilities can implement better air quality systems to reduce the risk to their staff, patients, and visitors. 

Facial Recognition

For example, there is new technology that provides facial recognition capabiliy and temperature checking, thus vetting the people who enter the building before they bring potential pathogens into the facility. This also aids in contact tracing should it be required.

Needle Point Bipolar Ionisation

An example of a product that can assist in healthy air quality is the Needle Point Bipolar Ionisation (NBPI) this proven third party lab tested and engineered technology produces positive and negative ions that travel with the supply air into the space.

In the space, these ions cause particles like dust, dander, pollen, bacteria and virus to attract and stick together (agglomeration). This action significantly increases the effectiveness of existing filters and can be installed in existing or new HVAC equipment.

The first of its kind in Australia, brought to you by IAQ Ventilation working closely with GPS Plasma. Used at the White House, Google, Hospitals, Universities and Clinics.

IAQ Ventilation Managament System

We implement our IAQ Ventilation Management System, including IAQ Analysis, IAQ Ventilation and Air Cleaning, and IAQ Monitoring -  creating indoor environments that promote health for you, your patients, and team. 

Next Steps

For more information or consultation with our specialist about which products and systems will work for your facility and budget, please contact us today.

[1] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00277-8?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=adf0f33809-briefing-dy-20210202&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-adf0f33809-45554770
[2] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-08/explainer-victoria-quarantine-hotel-changes/13132126
[3] https://amp-abc-net-au.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.abc.net.au/article/13120058
[4] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-05/move-to-telehealth-is-here-to-stay-after-coronavirus/12212680
[5] http://www.greenmoves.com.au/well-buildings/
[6] https://resources.wellcertified.com/zh-cn/articles/how-can-well-help-buildings-in-the-fight-against-covid-19-/
[7] From the wells ffc healthy building presentation