Hospital curtains: are you doing enough on hygiene?

Preventing the spread of infection has always been a number one priority for healthcare facilities, but never more so than now, as a pandemic sweeps the globe.

The first peak of Covid-19 has passed for most countries, but winter is approaching in the northern hemisphere and with it come many warnings about a possible second wave.  Added to the annual pressures of the seasonal flu, many experts are warning that hospitals, care homes and other facilities are likely to come under significant pressure in the colder months ahead.

Better hygiene has been a primary line of defense in all attempts to stop the spread of the virus so far, along with restricting people’s movements and interactions.  By now we are all accustomed to using alcohol hand rubs and wearing masks everywhere we go, while extra cleaning protocols have been introduced in all public-facing venues, including healthcare facilities.

For hospitals specifically, one protocol that is coming under scrutiny is the changing of hospital curtains.  In Europe, the use of disposable hospital curtains has become the norm – but this brings with it huge questions around cost and environmental sustainability.  In Canada and the US, traditional hospital curtains are still found in all but the riskiest parts of the hospital, such as the ER or ICU.  Despite being touched by patients, clinicians and visitors every time they enter or leave a patient bay, research shows that many facilities change their privacy curtains less than once a month.  Further research has shown that these curtains harbour pathogens, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA and C.Difficile.

How can we improve curtain hygiene?

One of the reasons hospital curtains aren’t laundered more frequently is because the physical process of changing them is laborious and sometimes risky.  Staff must find the right curtain to fit the space, and then climb on ladders or step stools to unhook the soiled curtain before hanging the new one, risking falls.  Cost is another factor – curtains are heavy and washing them is expensive.  With our InstaSwap hospital curtain track system, Belroc can help to mitigate these challenges and more for better hygiene and lower risk.

How does InstaSwap improve hospital curtain hygiene?

InstaSwap is an innovative modular curtain system that makes it easier to keep hospital curtains clean.  By using anti-microbial curtain fabric, the system helps to prevent contamination in the first place.  A convenient, quick-change mechanism makes it simple and safe to switch out curtains often.  Last but not least, the standardised, lightweight panels make inventory a breeze while saving up to 50% on average laundry costs.

How does it work?

InstaSwap curtains have a mesh top panel made from non-absorbent nylon, which attaches to the curtain track with a simple eyelet mechanism.  The mesh height is customised to the ceiling height so that the lower curtain panels, made from opaque polyester, are all a standard size.  The two panels connect together with reinforced snap fasteners so when it’s time to change, simply pull off the lower panel and snap on a new one.

Staff do not need ladders to change an InstaSwap curtain – changes are performed at floor level.  Standardised curtain panels mean your facility can reduce inventory by up to 50% and there’s no need for complex storage because one size fits everywhere.  The polyester panels are opaque and antimicrobial, but also lightweight for significantly lower laundry costs.  They also come in a range of colors and patterns for an aesthetically pleasing interior that doesn’t compromise on hygiene.

How often should hospital curtains be changed?

A study by the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, revealed that some 87% of hospital curtains became contaminated with MRSA after 14 days, even when the patients in those bays did not have MRSA.  This points to the fact that hospital curtains should be changed more often than every two weeks.

However, recent developments have provoked further debate on whether curtains should be changed even more regularly, perhaps twice weekly, and certainly after a patient has been discharged.  This means that hospitals, care homes and other facilities may face big challenges on curtain hygiene in the months ahead as demand for beds increases.

What our customers say

“Instaswap has been very beneficial.  It has helped us with laundering and curtain organizing within our facility.  It has also significantly helped with curtain changes making them faster and less physically exhausting for our staff.  Staff no longer have to reach all the way up to the ceiling track and unhook the entire curtain.  Unsnapping the curtain from the mesh is a vast improvement.

-Matt Coultes, St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Hamilton