3 ways healthcare facilities can prepare for a winter surge

This year more than any other, healthcare professionals are waiting with bated breath to see what the winter season is going to bring.  Every year at this time we start to see a peak in respiratory illnesses and seasonal flu, fuelled by cold weather conditions that help germs to survive on surfaces while also bringing people together indoors.  However, experts are predicting that hospital admissions due to Covid-19, on top of seasonal pressures, could plunge hospitals and care homes across Canada into crisis this winter.

So how can healthcare facilities prepare for the winter surge?

Hospitals and long-term care homes have already put strategies in place to try and minimise the impact of Covid-19 on their services by streamlining services, restricting visitors and implementing strict infection control protocols.  The aim is always to prevent infection in the first place, but even with the best intentions, it’s likely that ERs, ICUs and isolation wards will come under significant pressure this year.

As with any difficult situation, the key to coping with extreme pressure lies in a facility’s capacity to ‘roll with the punches’ – evolving and adapting to meet the needs of a rapidly changing situation.

Throughout this pandemic so far we have already witnessed the incredible resourcefulness of healthcare professionals who have shown resilience, innovation and dedication when it comes to delivering care under immense strain.  What these professionals need as we head into a difficult winter are healthcare interiors with the same ability to adapt.

Prevention, not cure

Infection control strategy is central to the effect a winter Covid surge will have on healthcare capacity.  Preventing staff and others from contracting the virus is vital and therefore facilities need to be across all aspects of hygiene – not just PPE and isolation for the infected, but gold standard hygiene throughout the hospital, from floors and doors to curtains and washrooms.  Worn or damaged surfaces, especially those made from porous materials, are a magnet for germs and help to facilitate the spread of viruses like Covid-19, which can survive for days on a handrail or door.  Upgrading to non-porous materials makes cleaning a breeze and reduces the risk of uncontrolled outbreaks which can have serious implications for staffing, which in turn impacts on capacity.

Adaptable spaces

Having extra capacity ‘up your sleeve’ is another key strategy for healthcare facilities facing into a pandemic winter.  Every year we see images of patients lying on gurneys in hallways because rigid interior design means there’s nowhere else for them to go when a flu outbreak hits.  But with a little forward thinking, other areas of the hospital can quickly be repurposed into clinical spaces offering better dignity and infection control.  Adding curtain track to communal areas means they can quickly be transformed into patient bays when the need arises – and by using a product like Belroc’s InstaSwap curtain system, you can be assured of optimal hygiene performance in use.  Alternatively, the use of solid room divider systems such as our CleanScreen range can allow you to create temporary patient bays with a much more private feel – a far superior and safer alternative to the flimsy fabric screens that are so often used to give dignity to patients waiting in ERs and other busy areas.  As well as being easy to disinfect, CleanScreen is modular and fully portable so it’s ideal for creating bespoke clinical spaces in any location.  Having these systems in place and ready for implementation means that a facility can respond to a developing crisis faster, with better outcomes for both patients and staff.

Crisis preparation

Ten months into this pandemic, we’re all hoping that the very worst of it can be contained if we pull together as a society to try and reduce the spread.  But should the worst happen, some facilities might once again need to look at field hospital setups to add the capacity they require.

Back in March we put a huge effort into sourcing options to help our healthcare colleagues prepare for the worst case scenario and we stand prepared to do the same this winter if necessary.  Our WatchPod is a self-contained patient observation bay that makes it simple to manage infection control, and care for the maximum number of people even when resources are stretched.  It can be installed into existing hospital facilities, transforming current non-clinical space into effective ward environments, or used in other venues like exhibition centers and sports arenas, should the need arise.  We also offer SpeediBed, designed to help ramp up bed capacity in a crisis.  With its lightweight yet strong aluminium construction and a range of clever clinical and safety features, SpeediBed provides all the comfort and functionality of a conventional hospital bed in a rapidly scalable format.

 

For more information on how Belroc can support your organisation’s pandemic response strategy, contact Dan Lawrenson – dlawrenson@belroc.com.