With the growing incidence of antibiotic resistant infections in the world, research is beginning to turn towards what can be done to reduce the need for antibiotics in the first place. Unsurprisingly, improved hospital design can play an important role in helping to reduce this frighteningly serious problem. Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you are considering renovating a hospital facility.
Use Copper Surfaces
Copper is known to kill most microbes within about an hour. Thus, studies show that the use of copper can reduce the incidence of hospital acquired infections. Some of the scariest antibiotic resistant infections around, such as MRSA, are frequently contracted as a result of a hospital stay. Reducing the transmission of hospital acquired infections is one of the best things we can do to reduce the spread of antibiotic resistant infections.
Creative use of copper surfaces can be a fundamental design shift for the facility. Since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, this ingenious method of cutting down on the amount of germs that survive without adding more harsh chemicals to the routine is an excellent move.
Reduce the Need to Touch Everything
With proper design, a public bathroom can be adequately private without needing a door. Eliminating the door can eliminate one of the most germ-prone surfaces in a public building while also eliminating a step in the process that can add unnecessary risk for every single person who visits the hospital, whether patient, staff, visitor or other worker.
Similarly, entry doors can be activated by motion sensors. If you make it possible for sick people to come and go without touching a door knob or door handle at all, you reduce the risk of cross contamination. Anything you can do stop creating situations where a great many unwell people come in contact repeatedly with the same surfaces is a move in the right direction.
Consider Alternate Heating and Cooling Methods
Forced air heat may not be the best means to keep your facility warm. Such systems can collect dust and allergens, grow mold and recirculate germs. In fact, Legionnaire’s Disease often grows in cooling towers (air conditioning units for large buildings). This means that your air conditioning system can incubate and spread a very serious infection. This is not a good means to take care of the health of your patients or staff.
Passive solar design elements can help keep a building at a comfortable temperature with fewer inherent dangers. It is a methodology that relies upon warmth from the sun, thermal mass and various design tricks to keep the physical structure itself at a comfortable temperature, thereby reducing the need to try to manipulate the internal air temperature directly. If the building itself is neither too hot nor too cold, the air is much less likely to be uncomfortably warm or cold.
As a bonus, passive solar design typically results in lower bills. There is less need to burn energy when the building simply stays a comfortable temperature because of good design, without being constantly fed new inputs to warm or cool it. Plus, passive solar design tends to result in a fundamentally more comfortable space.
In the years since antibiotics were first discovered, the world has changed a great deal. Some of those changes — such as growing antibiotic resistance — are a bad thing. Others — such as dramatically more information and research into alternate solutions for serious problems — are a good thing. As we move forward into the 21st Century, we have the power to leverage the good things as a means to reduce the problems we have literally grown.