by HEPACART on Sep 12, 2016
Now more than ever healthcare facilities are aiming to create environments that minimize the chance of healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs). While hospital training and protocol for staff, visitors, and patients can all have an important impact on this goal, successful infection control can go back even further. The materials used to construct a hospital, from the ground up, all represent an opportunity to create a cleaner and healthier environment.
Healthcare Flooring Considerations
While the occasional visitor probably does not pay much attention to the floors in a hospital, the materials used to make up those floors are essential to the success of infection control measures. There are a few specific considerations that go into choosing the type of flooring material used in a healthcare setting, including:
Safety is perhaps the most important of these factors and includes things like slip resistance and also cleanability. Slipping can be a major hazard, particularly for patients with mobility problems or who are older.
In terms of cleaning, the less dust and debris that is allowed to accumulate on the floor’s surface the better. Ultimately, what is important is that floors are smooth and durable enough to not collect bacteria and to stand up to many cleanings over the life of the surface.
Comfort is also important, with nurses and doctors standing on the flooring for long hours. Tile that may be extremely durable can be punishing on the bodies of healthcare professionals.
Durability and cost are of course wrapped up in one another, as with many construction decisions. The longer hospital flooring will last, the more a facility may be willing to pay at the outset because they will not have to worry about repairs or replacement for years to come.
How Flooring Impacts Dust Containment
The flooring in a healthcare environment also impacts how effective dust containment systems can be implemented. As mentioned above, the wrong flooring material can attract and collect microscopic dust and debris, making it a hazard to staff and patient health. Proper dust containment, combined with the right type of flooring, can mitigate these risks. For instance, the use of a dust containment cart for a ceiling access project means that dust never escapes from that enclosure to reach the floor. This can mean less cleaning, less risk, and flooring that lasts longer.
Flooring and Sustainability
The sustainability buzzword may conjure images of wind farms and plug-in cars, but there is a lot more to sustainable construction materials than that. While the environmental impact of a specific material is certainly important, one of the best ways to minimize that impact is by choosing materials that are durable. The less often that flooring -- or walls, windows, ceiling tiles, and everything else that fits together to become a healthcare facility -- has to be replaced, the more environmental the choice. In fact, this type of durability also has an impact on dust containment since replacing these types of materials can represent a huge renovation project that will need extensive infection control measures to undertake.
Of course, flooring is just one part of the puzzle that is healthcare and hospital construction. Choosing the right materials for a hospital construction project means taking into account not just the standard questions of cost and durability, but also patient comfort and protection.