Medical and Dental practice owners you’ve taken a big hit same as most other industries due to the Covid-19 shut down. You’re still fresh to reopening and making the extended measures to provide infection control and start treating patients safely again. Your building facility can be made more effective in protecting staff and patients better, including tools for surface cleaning, aerosol infection control and social distancing.
Learning how to provide services over telehealth tools was likely a “fun” and necessary exercise to treat your patients during the stay-at-home order. Now that you’ve got the hang of it, offices are reopening and incorporating the CDC guidelines to manage infection control. The CDC’s1 steps include:
- Educating staff
- Communicating with patients (placing reminders for social distancing and hand washing in your facility)
- Wearing Personal Protective Equipment
- Installing ventilation systems to eliminate the aerosols that escape from the mouth, eyes or nose
- Integrating easy to clean barriers in open spaces
- Installing UVGI lighting
- Removing magazines and toys (or other unnecessary items that could be touched in public areas)
You may be wondering how long you can sustain ongoing surface cleaning, social distancing and what you should do with those magazine subscriptions. Especially with some cleaning supplies and PPE in high demand and the varying level of concern by your patients. We have found other tools and materials with which you may not be familiar. These could be helpful in elevating the cleaning and distancing you’re already doing.
You may be aware that UVC Light is useful in sanitizing unoccupied rooms. That’s why the CDC recommends UVGI disinfecting light as an option for cleaning your unoccupied treatment rooms. However, the light is harmful to skin and eyes when exposed/penetrated, so it is critical that the room is empty of people when in use.. Recent, new findings by Columbia University have filtered the Far-UVC light from the UVC as a potential option for cleaning occupied rooms – emphasis on occupied. The wavelength range of the Far-UVC are shorter and don’t penetrate into the top dead layer of skin, or outer layer of the eye, but still are able to destroy the bacteria and viruses. Being able to use it in occupied rooms, they claim, “will prevent the airborne, person-to-person transmission of pathogens such as coronaviruses.”2 When the results are confirmed, researchers believe that it will be great to use in “hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, airports, and airplanes” to fight transmission of germs.
Additionally, conducting ATP testing can measure the cleanliness of surfaces. In high traffic or shared spaces, the tests can tell you quickly if you are cleaning adequately. It evaluates the cleaning practices and “can be a useful tool to measure the efficiency of cleaning procedures also in environments with very low microbial counts”.
Antimicrobial Surface Coatings have been used primarily on door knobs, countertops, and wall surfaces, according to an article in Architect Magazine, “Materials & Coatings that Reduce Surface Transmission of Bacteria & Viruses”. It’s also being added to paint and silicon based nanocoatings now. The applied material has self-cleaning functionality and can help with confidence between regular cleanings. However, the CDC has “found no evidence to suggest the products offer any enhanced protection from spread of bacteria and germs and that proper cleaning and hand washing are best for protection”. Contrastingly, there are studies that prove that the silver or other metals used in the material does reduce microbial growth.3 So at this time it should be considered extra protection in addition to a regular cleaning schedule, rather than in place of cleaning.
There are a variety of options for barriers and partitions to separate open areas, however, we found two that caught our attention. Rolascreen can be printed on to create any design that you would like with a variety of options available. It’s also non-porous, easily cleanable, portable, condensable, and lightweight. Also, EverShield Portable Partition System is an efficient way to separate lobby areas or clinics and can easily be expanded with later installments if necessary. These are both good temporary options, also know that there are other fine partition companies that can be found online. If you decide that the partitions should be permanent, please contact Michael Shepard at Wolgast Corporation to discuss remodeling options.
Finally, the N95 masks can be hard to find in the quantity that you’re anticipating. The FDA has identified Hydrogen Peroxide Decontamination Systems are effective in extending the life of N95 masks. The FDA states on its website that certain models of the ASP STERRAD Sterilization Systems can sterilize “compatible N95 masks”, so by verifying the match you can prolong your N95 supply.4
Wolgast is an expert provider of design and construction of healthcare offices. Please call us if you need recommendations for HVAC companies for ventilation, permanent wall barriers, a remodel or a new office built. If you have found other infection control measures that are working well for you, please send us a note so we can share with others.
1https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/dental-settings.html “Guidance for Dental Settings”
2https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-21058-w “Far-UVC light: A new tool to control the spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases
3 https://www.architectmagazine.com/technology/materials-and-coatings-that-reduce-surface-transmission-of-bacteria-and-viruses_o “Materials and Coatings that Reduce Surface Transmission of Bacteria and Viruses
4https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/letters-health-care-providers/use-correct-cycle-and-compatible-n95-respirators-when-decontaminating-respirators-sterrad “Use the Correct Cycle and Compatible N95 Respirators When Decontaminating Respirators with STERRAD Sterilization Systems - Letter to Health Care Providers”