How To Protect Your Senior Living Community From Coronavirus & Influenza This Winter
by HEPACART on Dec 10, 2020
In addition to your current infection control measures, are you wondering if there's more you can do?
2020 has provided a crash course in pandemic protocols for administrators of retirement communities. Since early spring, you have been dealing with COVID-19 by restricting visitors, increasing cleaning, establishing social distancing markers, providing PPE, training staff, and much, much more, with the help of guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control and other trusted sources.
Despite putting extraordinary effort into such measures, you may feel that somehow they are not enough. It's well-known that the coronavirus is far deadlier to older people than younger — those 65-74 years old are 90 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than those 18-29, and the odds get much worse for older age groups. Those living in senior living communities are kept safe primarily through the actions of facility directors like you.
So, where to go from here? If you are implementing a phased reopening, the later phases likely include a modified plan for indoor visits, a change that may be increasing your daily intake of antacids. Knowing that COVID-19 and the flu have a high airborne transmission rate, what steps can you take to protect your residents further?
Air Filtration & Air Disinfection
Assuming that you have already done everything you can to upgrade your building’s HVAC systems, such as installing high MERV-rating filters, increasing outside air intake, and adjusting airflow patterns, the next step is to implement localized air filtration and disinfection equipment.
Regardless of whether you're placing a stand-alone air scrubber in a high-risk area or setting up a negative air machine to quarantine those who tested positive for COVID-19, there are two basic technologies at work in both of these.
The first is air filtration to remove particles that are contaminated with pathogens from the air. The highest-efficiency filter type in general use in healthcare environments is the high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which is optimized to remove at least 99.97% of 0.3 μm-diameter particles (particles both larger and smaller are more easily trapped). To learn more about HEPA filters, MERV ratings, and some additional details about how mechanical filtration works, check out some of our previous posts.
The second is air disinfection by means of ultraviolet light. If you have done any searching on the subject, you probably already know that not all UV light is the same. The safest and most effective form of UV lies within the UVC spectrum, namely far-UVC. Far-UVC has a shorter wavelength (between 207-222 nanometers) than traditional germicidal UV, which occupies a range of the ultraviolet spectrum from about 240 to 300 nm. Far-UVC light can efficiently destroy pathogens without harming human tissue. These wavelengths are also known for the ability to eliminate 99.9% of pathogens, such as viruses (COVID-19, influenza, tuberculous, and measles), bacteria, fungi, and mold spores.
Let's see how both filtration and air disinfection by far-UV light are incorporated into equipment that you can buy or rent today.
Air Cleaning Equipment for Senior Living Communities
HEPACART® is on a mission to provide facility directors like you with effective infection-prevention measures that can save time and money, but more importantly, lives.
Judicious use of machines such as the HEPAFORCE® Air Negative Air Machine & Scrubber, UV-FORCE® Air Disinfection Module, and the GermBuster Room Air Purifier with UV-FORCE® can have a significant impact in mitigating the spread of airborne viruses in indoor common areas within residential facilities. It can take your facility to the next level of disinfection. Let’s take a look at each of these.
Far-UVC Room Air Purifiers
The GermBuster Room Air Purifier with UV-FORCE® is a stand-alone commercial room air purifier that provides continuous air disinfection. It effectively processes air in three stages. First, the impeller pulls the air through a MERV-7 pre-filter to collect large particles. Then the air passes through the far-UVC chamber, where an 18" lamp destroys smaller pathogens such as the flu virus, coronavirus, bacteria, and spores, in about 1/5 of a second. Finally, clean air emerges from the top of the unit at 330 cfm through a HEPA filter.
GermBuster Room Air Purifier with UV-FORCE® can be rolled into resident rooms, dining rooms, multipurpose rooms, and nurse quarters to reduce viral load in the air to non-infectious levels. Just one of these machines can purify the air in a 3,200 cubic foot room 6 times per hour.
HEPA-Filtered Negative Air Machines
As you know, negative air machines are used to create either positive or negative air pressure in a room while cleaning the air through filtration. Positive pressure is achieved by pulling air from outside the room, filtering it, and exhausting it inside. This would be used to keep an immunocompromised patient safe from infection. On the other hand, negative pressure keeps pathogens from escaping an infected occupant's room because filtered air is exhausted outside the room, protecting everyone else from infection.
HEPACART® manufactures HEPAFORCE® AIR Negative Air Machines & Scrubber in two sizes. Both require little maintenance, have ECM fan motors with variable speeds, include medical-grade HEPA filters, and boast a rating that exceeds the filtration efficiency of MERV 16. In live-in senior communities where most residents spend up to 90% percent of their time indoors, where air quality can be 10 times worse than outdoors, our HEPAFORCE® AIR Negative Air Machine & Scrubber can be critical to their long-term health.
Our negative air machines are often used in conjunction with our AnteRoom Classic to provide room isolation — and with our Airborne Disinfection Module with UV-FORCE® to provide maximum air disinfection. Let's talk more about that.
Air Disinfection Modules
Our Airborne Disinfection Module with UV-FORCE® effectively turns any HEPA-filtered negative air machine on the market into a giant air purifier. Pathogens tiny enough to slip through the HEPA filter get their cell walls ruptured by a far-UVC lamp, rendering them harmless. The combined effect of filtration and far-UVC can provide up to a 6-log reduction of pathogens or a reduction of 99.99% — now that's clean. It also qualifies as a top-level precaution for Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) Level III and Level IV construction environments.
Our Airborne Disinfection Module with UV-FORCE® is ideal for senior living communities because it offers the highest level of assurance. You can rest easy knowing that it works efficiently and effectively, keeping patients safe and families at peace. It's a user-friendly unit with quality construction, which means staff can easily learn how to use it, clean it, and relocate it from one location to another.
Senior living communities are not only permanent residences but also medical treatment centers for the most infection-prone populations. To say that an extraordinary burden has been placed on the shoulders of administrators and facility directors during the year of COVID-19 is an understatement. Our job is to make sure you’re aware of all the options, so we sincerely hope you've learned a thing or two from this post about air disinfection equipment.
To explore the topic further, read the Complete Guide To Infection Control for Facilities Managers.