Are airborne pathogens a threat to public confidence in hospital safety? A dramatic reduction in ER visits during 2020 sure says so.
A recent study showed that HCWs who reused PPE or had inadequate access to PPE had a significantly greater risk of COVID-19 infection; and even an adequate supply of PPE did not completely mitigate high-risk exposures. And healthcare workers are not the only ones being affected. The risk of nosocomial infection, aka 'disease originating in a hospital', is increasing to other vulnerable patient populations in hospitals as well, even with adequate amount of PPE.
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." [i] 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.
Rebuilding Confidence in Hospital Safety
Small-capacity, self-contained negative pressure environments like SCONE will give way to a new approach to aerosol control protocols in acute-care, critical access hospitals, and long-term face facilities. The implementation of SCONE and new safety protocols surrounding the use of active barrier protection devices will yield positive outcomes for infection prevention, patient throughput, 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.
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 airborne infectious disease threat, and it definitely won't be the last. We are calling for better safety protocols now.
Hospitals will continue to be perceived as unsafe for healthcare workers and patients unless something changes. How many more healthcare workers must get sick before we say enough is enough? How many more hospitals must close their doors before we start trying a different approach to help keep them open?
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.
Let's have a conversation about how we can help.