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Hospitals With Air Conditioning
Hospitals with air conditioning are by far the prominent format in the free world, but this is not the case in the developing world. Lack of electricity, and funds are the obvious cause for this lack of air conditioned facilities, However, these air conditioned facilities face a number of issues that their non-air conditioned brothers do not face including but not limited to:
- Accumulation of stale air
- Accumulation of airborne odors
- Accumulation of airborne pathogens
- Development of biofilm EPS pathogens in the HVAC air handling system
- Development of biofilm ESP pathogens in HVAC water cooling towers and holding tanks
- Reduced vigilance regarding surface sanitation
- Reduced vigilance regarding clothing sanitation
Running a large or small hospital regardless of where it is located is a daunting undertaking. Any time you bring sick people together in a closed space especially a closed physical space with a closed HVAC system, many bad things can and often do happen.
Usually the cost of running the HVAC system is found somewhere near the root of the problems. Bringing in fresh out side air to freshen the inside air bring in hot, humid and dust latent air into the HVAC system. This stresses the system with increased requirements to cool and dehumidify the fresh air. It also stresses the maintenance on the system to remove the dirt and pathogens brought in with the fresh air.
Because much of the distribution parts of any large air handling system are closed and very difficult if not impossible to access directly by maintenance personnel, cleaning and inspection of these difficult to access areas is either never done or only done when predicated by a failure. Frequent changing of the filter elements is the easiest and least expensive of the routine maintenance procedures, but the type of filter elements used and the frequency they are changed at can make a huge difference in the amount of other maintenance required to keep the system running efficiently and safely. Further, even frequent and consistent changing of even high quality (and high cost) filter elements does not stop or reverse the accumulation of particulate in the heat exchangers and distribution parts of the HVAC air handling system.
Water cooling towers and their associated water holding tank can substantially reduce the cost of air conditioning large amounts of air. But the fact that they are mounted on the roof of the building make them a prime places for dirt and bacteria to accumulate and grow. Especially if the water cooling tower is used to directly cool the air being circulated through the building.
New developments in air conditioning technology which distributes liquefied refrigerant to a room sized air handler instead of cooled air has some serious advantages, but requires that each rooms air handler have its own outside air source blower fan and filters that all have to be maintained.
Regardless of the exact type of HVAC system used in a hospital, the problem of cross contamination of patents is a serious and on going problem that results in many hospital acquired diseases and unexpected patent deaths. But blaming cross contamination entirely on to the HVAC system is a gross over simplification of the problem. Hospital disinfection procedures for staff and doctors are often lacking in consistent execution and effective results because disinfectant sprays and gells are only 99% to 99.99% effective. The more effective they are, the more destructive they are to the users.
The unrestrained and often ill advised use of antibiotics and ineffective disinfectants world wide, has produced a growing number of antibiotic resistant strains of common bacteria, spores and viruses. Because many of these pathogens are so aggressive, the patent dies before a accurate diagnosis can be made which results in the miss-diagnosis of the COD and often the lack of accurate reporting of the incident (assuming that a reporting system exists).
Controlling normal odors created by human occupation still remains as difficult as ever considering that hospitals are not normally in the practice of covering up odor with perfumes that can themselves cause bad reactions in sensitive patents. Add to this the very pungent and unique smell of cancer patents, insulin, infected flesh, excrement, mold, spores and a host of other hospital specific odors and there exists an environment full of odors that is nearly impossible to control.
If they smell of mold or urine or any number of other unpleasant odors, you will be lucky if the guest simply demands a different room. If there are alternate accommodations often they will cancel and tell their friends about the incident too.
So, what is there to do? In some cases the situation is due to poorly trained or supervised house keeping staff, but for the most part, the housekeeping staff simply does not have the tools they need to properly solve the problems.
Mold, urine, vomit, body odor, spilled food and drinks and many more odors are very difficult to remove and standard cleaning products (including the new enzyme products) are generally not up to the task. So, spraying the room with perfume of some kind is the solution even if it only temporarily and often offensive to the guest.