Each year 1.7 million people obtain a Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) during their hospital stay. Over 5% of HAIs are construction or maintenance related; that’s over 85,000 people who become sick due to construction and maintenance work.
How Does This Occur?
Over time, dust accumulates in the duct work, above-ceiling, and in other hidden areas of hospitals. Dust can contain biological particles such as mold and fungus spores. Molds, such as Aspergillus, are naturally present in the air and found in dust and debris. These molds remain viable in dry locations, such as air ducts. These particles are harmless to the average healthy person but can be deadly to immune compromised individuals in hospitals.
There are many factors that contribute to the build up in HVAC systems including: dust, pollen, residue from linen sheets and more. Though air is filtered through an HVAC system, it may not be clean if the system is not well maintained and debris and dust gathers in air ducts. As air moves through the system, the air ducts become a conduit for dust and potentially harmful particles to move throughout the building, creating a major concern for healthcare facilities.
With the ability to remain in the air for prolonged periods of time, mold and fungus spores are easily inhaled, increasing the likelihood of HAIs amongst the immune compromised individuals in hospitals. Problems caused by mold include: allergic reactions, asthma, pneumonia and irritation of eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs. With some particles, such as Aspergillus, more serious problems and even death can occur. Air duct cleaning is a necessary step to ensure patient wellness and prevent HAIs.
Two Important Things to Remember When Getting Your Air Ducts Cleaned:
1. Hire a contractor who understands the importance of infection control and is experienced in working in sensitive areas, such as healthcare facilities. Proper containment is vital! Learn more here.
2. Get it done! Not only does air duct cleaning prevent HAIs and increase air quality, but it increases energy savings and efficiency as well! Learn more about how HVAC maintenance can save time and money here.
Airborne HAIs are an unintended consequence generated by poor air quality maintenance and infection control procedures that affects millions of people, and adds billions of dollars to healthcare costs each year. On average, a single HAI costs $14,000.
NADCA suggests that all components of HVAC systems in hospitals be inspected annually. Just like your body needs an annual checkup, so does your HVAC system. Well maintained air ducts lead to a healthy environment for patients, family, and hospital staff. Following these recommendations can ensure you prevent any issues in your facility.