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Keeping the Air Clean in Your Isolation Rooms

Blog_Header_Keeping Air in Isolation RoomsIf you are familiar with isolation rooms or areas, then you know that they must stay clean and sterile at all times, even during construction. But how do you help people stay clean when they are constantly going in and out of an area, possibly carrying contaminants on their clothes and bodies? In this blog post we are going to explore why keeping isolation rooms and areas sterile is so important, as well as why the best solution is from AnteRooms. Let’s get started!

Why is it Important to Keep the Air Clean in Isolation Rooms?

If construction is taking place in a non-healthcare office, the employees simply leave and come back when it is safe to do so. But patients in a hospital cannot do the same thing, and so construction work must accommodate their needs. This requires keeping all of the dust, fumes, and other unpleasant particles away from the patients so that they do not get sick or that their conditions do not worsen. And that is why it is so critical to be familiar with ICRA guidelines.

What are ICRA Guidelines and Why are They Important?

ICRA stands for Infection Control Risk Assessment. These guidelines are presented in a matrix that analyzes all possible sources of construction containments and debris that can make their way through a hospital. There are four types of construction that ICRA covers, and they range from minor to significant:

  • Type A (non-invasive): Painting with no sanding, minor plumbing, electrical trim work.
  • Type B (short duration): Installing cables, cutting into walls or ceilings if dust is easily controlled.
  • Type C (high dust levels): Sanding walls, removing floor coverings, ductwork, building a new wall.
  • Type D (serious): New construction, heavy demolition, removal of complete cabling system.

Once the type of work is determined, the patient populations that may be affected need to be identified:

  • Low Risk: Office areas, cafeteria, lobby, etc.
  • Medium Risk: Cardiology, nuclear medicine, radiology, etc.
  • High Risk: CCU, emergency room, laboratories, surgical units, etc.
  • Highest Risk: Burn unit, cardiac cath lab, ICU, oncology, operating rooms, etc.

Once you know your construction type and your patient risk group, you must connect them together into one of four classes:

  • Class I (Green): Minimally invasive. Just requires cleanup when complete.
  • Class II (Yellow): More serious. Containment measures for dust required.
  • Class III (Purple): The room should be treated like a prison for dust. There must be a thorough inspection of every person who enters or exits. An inspection by the Safety Department and Infection Prevention & Control Department and a cleaning by the Environmental Services Department. Must take place upon completion.
  • Class IV (Red): Negative pressure, plastic seals over any cracks, HEPA filters. An inspection by the Safety Department and Infection Prevention & Control Department and a cleaning by the Environmental Services Department must take place upon completion.

The remaining steps in the ICRA guidelines are fairly short and to the point:

  • Step 1: Identify the areas surrounding the project area, assessing potential impact.
  • Step 2: Identify specific sites of activity.
  • Step 3: Identify issues related to ventilation, plumbing, electrical in terms of the occurrence of probable outages. 
  • Step 4: Identify containment measures using prior assessment. What types of barriers? Will HEPA filtration be required?
  • Step 5: Consider potential risk of water damage. Is there a risk due to compromising structural integrity?
  • Step 6: Work hours: Can or will the work be done during non-patient care hours?
  • Step 7: Do plans allow for an adequate number of isolation/negative airflow rooms? 
  • Step 8: Do the plans allow for the required number and type of handwashing sinks? 
  • Step 9: Does the infection prevention and control staff agree with the minimum number of sinks for this project? Verify against FGI Design and Construction Guidelines for types and area.
  • Step 10: Does the infection prevention and control staff agree with the plans relative to clean and soiled utility rooms? 
  • Step 11: Plan to discuss the following containment issues with the project team.

What Should I Use to Meet ICRA Guidelines?

There is a lot to remember and apply when it comes to IRCA guidelines, but remember that it is what is necessary to keep patients safe. A great tool for complying with IRCA guidelines is the HEPACART AnteRoom Classic. Imagine a screened-in porch that allows your beloved pet to move in and out of the house without going outside uninhibited. That is essentially what the AnteRoom does, but for construction workers.

Here’s how it works: when workers are done with construction for the day, they are covered in dust. The AnteRoom sucks all of the dust away and filters the air before expelling it. It is easy to use, too–all you have to do is set it up against a doorway, and workers can go in and out without bringing any unwanted particles with them. Not only does this keep patients safe, it gives you and your workers peace of mind.

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