Preventing cross-infection has always been a major priority in healthcare settings, but the current global health crisis has brought this hugely challenging objective even more sharply into focus.
We are all used to a health system where risk is managed in tiers, and where the highest standards of hygiene are required only in confined areas of our health facilities. The Covid-19 pandemic is challenging this mindset. Since this virus is new, we don’t yet know exactly how it spreads or why some seemingly healthy people are affected more than others. Hospitals are rightly adopting a zero-tolerance approach until the pandemic is under control – but it raises questions about the future of infection control if outbreaks such as this become more common.
Hand hygiene, for example, has been a major feature of the response to this outbreak. As a global population, we’ve never been more aware of how often we wash our hands and how often we touch our faces, hand rails, door handles and each other. Since viruses can spread in this way, it means that hospitals must look beyond high-risk areas such as isolation wards and washrooms when it comes to their future pandemic strategies.
Hospital curtains are a big issue for this reason. In Canada, the use of fabric privacy curtains in low-risk wards and examination rooms is commonplace. From an environmental standpoint, this saves millions of disposable curtains from landfill every year – but traditional privacy curtains also pose a substantial infection risk.
One 2018 Canadian study showed that hospital curtains become increasingly contaminated over time, with 87.5% of test curtains showing positive for MRSA after 21 days, even when the patients using the bays didn’t have MRSA. The recommendation is that these curtains should be changed and laundered frequently to minimise the spread of infection – but the logistics of this are challenging.
Firstly, changing conventional curtains is time consuming – a luxury busy departments don’t often have. Demand for bed space means changeovers must be speedy, and switching out curtains can cause delays. Secondly, physically changing curtains can be risky – staff usually have to climb stepladders to detach a soiled curtain and replace it with a new one.
Innovative products such as Belroc’s InstaSwap curtain system are designed to help facilities stay on top of infection control while also being convenient for staff and kind to the planet.
InstaSwap is a simple yet clever system featuring a track fitted with non-absorbent nylon mesh that attaches with snap fasteners to a fabric curtain panel. The mesh panels are customised to the ceiling height while all fabric panels are a standard size. This means the mesh doesn’t need to be changed regularly, while the curtains themselves can be changed as often as required – simply pull off the soiled curtain and snap on a new one, with no need for step stools or ladders. One-size-fits-all curtains mean there’s no hunting for the right one to fit a specific room or ward, just grab and go for fast, hygienic changeovers. Both the curtain panels and the mesh are washable up to 160F and are treated with an antimicrobial agent to inhibit growth of bacteria during use.
We believe systems like this will become the gold standard in a world where environmental concerns must be factored into our need for hygiene and infection control amongst increasingly dense populations. To find out more about InstaSwap or to discuss your facility’s requirements, contact our sales team today.