May 20, 2020 How Outpatient Surgery And Urgent Care Centers Can Halt The Spread Of Infections With UV Lamps
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 75 percent of all operations in the United States are performed outside hospitals in outpatient surgery centers (OSCs).
Use of urgent care centers (UCCs) is also expected to rise as the population ages and health insurance coverage increases. According to the Urgent Care Association of America, the wait-times at a UCC average just 30 minutes compared to four hours at hospital emergency rooms.
In addition to faster treatment, UCCs offer patients dramatically lower costs. The average urgent care center visit cost is $150 versus $1,354 in an emergency department – and co-pays are similar to those for a primary care visit.
Unlike conventional medical centers and hospitals, UCCs and OSCs frequently lack the resources and infrastructure for adequate infection control. Oftentimes such walk-in clinics are housed in locations that were not specifically designed to control communicable diseases, including strip malls and retail spaces. These locations challenge infection control specialists and building engineers tasked with protecting patients and staff.
With more than 9,000 UCCs and OSCs in the U.S., it is vital to ensure that they maintain proper infection controls to protect the health and well-being of millions of people.
UV-C in UCCs
One reliable solution for reducing pathogens and maintaining indoor environmental quality inside UCCs and OSCs is ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), which employs light in the UV-C spectrum to eliminate virtually all microorganisms from upper air and HVAC cooling coils.
The use of UV-C lamps in healthcare to control infectious agents is nothing new. It has been used for more than 70 years, and in many instances with measured and very successful results. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee finds that ultraviolet energy helps to control disease transmission: “As a supplemental air-cleaning measure, UVGI is effective in reducing the transmission of airborne bacterial and viral infections in hospitals, military housing, and classrooms…”
A 2013 CDC-funded study conducted in two hospitals found that UV-C reduced the total number of colony-forming units of any pathogen in a room by 91 percent. Similar results of UV-C’s efficacy in inactivating pathogens were demonstrated in a 2003 study in Atmospheric Environment and a 2014 American Journal of Infection Control study referenced in Infection Control Today.
What’s true in traditional hospitals can be true in OSCs and UCCs. In other words, facility managers and building owners at such locations can offer the same institutional infection control strategies for reducing infection-causing microorganisms.
The primary objective of upper-room UV-C placement is to interrupt the transmission of airborne infectious diseases in patient rooms, waiting rooms and other known microbial pathways such as lobbies, stairwells, and corridors, all of which can be effectively and affordably treated with UV-C. Operating 24 hours a day, they are especially effective at reducing airborne infectious microbes and minimizing the viability of surface microbes that may have settled out of room air.
Air Conditioning Systems
Air handling systems are not designed to prevent disease transmission. However, these HVAC systems circulate microorganisms from one space to another and are perfect breeding grounds for mold and bacteria. UV-C can be easily applied to air conditioning equipment and ducts to kill airborne and surface pathogens.
As urgent care centers and outpatient surgery centers mushroom across the nation, UV-C can be a reliable and cost-effective solution for keeping their infection control standards on par with traditional hospital settings. For more information, please visit www.uvresources.com.
 Sehulster LM, Chinn RYW, Arduino MJ, Carpenter J, Donlan R, Ashford D, Besser R, Fields B, McNeil MM, Whitney C, Wong S, Juranek D, Cleveland J. Guidelines for environmental infection control in health-care facilities. Recommendations from CDC and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC). Chicago IL; American Society for Healthcare Engineering/American Hospital Association; 2004.