A recent study showed that frontline HCWs had a significantly increased risk of COVID-19 infection, highest among HCWs who reused PPE or had inadequate access to PPE. However, adequate supplies of PPE did not completely mitigate high-risk exposures. And healthcare workers are not the only ones being affected. The risk of nosocomial infection is increasing to other vulnerable patient populations in hospitals as well, even with adequate amount of PPE. Is airborne disease a threat to public confidence in hospital safety? A dramatic reduction in ER visits during 2020 sure says so.
According to Dr. Manoj Jain, an infectious disease physician in Memphis, “My experience tells me that nosocomial COVID-19 is rampant, and hospitals are not sounding the alarm.”[ The answer to the question 'Is Coronavirus airborne?' seems pretty obvious at this point, and it's no secret that the fear of transmission is keep patients away from hospitals.
Small-capacity, self-contained negative pressure environments like SCONE will give way to a new approach to infection prevention measures in acute-care and critical access hospitals and long-term face facilities. The implementation of SCONE and new safety protocols surrounding these devices will yield positive outcomes for infection prevention, healthcare efficiencies, clinical care, and patient satisfaction. The benefits of using SCONE during a pandemic or post-pandemic era will allow hospitals to be at-the-ready for unpredictable fluctuations in patient volumes and provide fiscal benefits that far outweigh SCONE’s relatively small cost.
Even before COVID-19, the CDC stated that nosocomial infections account for an estimated two million infections, 100,000 deaths, and $4.5 billion in excess health-care costs annually in US hospitals.[ii] Efforts to reduce the spread of airborne diseases such as COVID, SARS, avian flu, and influenza must remain a top priority for the protection of healthcare workers and vulnerable patient populations.
Here's some food for thought-
Even if every single healthcare worker were to be vaccinated for COVID, and those vaccines showed lasting immunity across every single variant over a long period of time, and no new variants were to ever pop up and outsmart the vaccines, vulnerable patient populations and healthcare workers are still at increased risk of nosocomial transmission in healthcare facilities.
COVID wasn't the first infectious disease threat out there and it definitely won't be the last.
Hospitals will continue to be perceived as unsafe for healthcare workers and patients unless something changes. How many more nurses must get sick before we say enough is enough? How many more hospitals must shut down before we start trying a different approach?
The same study concluded "The apparent lack of complete protection against acquiring COVID-19 infection through adequate PPE suggests that additional risk mitigation strategies require further investigation." SCONE is the new strategy.
If you control the air, you control and reduce the risk. If you reduce the risk, you can regain confidence and show the community your commitment to patient safety and just how much you value your employees.
[i] Jain, Manoj. “Patients are getting infected with covid-19 in the hospital. It happened to one of mine and killed him.” The Washington Post, 21 January 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/acquiring-covid-19-in-the-hospital/2020/12/31/8cac8b82-3a50-11eb-9276-ae0ca72729be_story.html.
[ii] Reed, Deoine, and Sandra A Kemmerly. “Infection control and prevention: a review of hospital-acquired infections and the economic implications.” The Ochsner Journal vol. 9,1 (2009): 27-31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3096239/