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Mission Critical: Preventing the Spread of the Flu in Hospitals


Hospitals and other healthcare facilities house some of our most vulnerable populations: the sick, the injured and the immune-compromised. To prevent the spread of disease, healthcare organizations are held to strict standards for temperature and humidity control. While environmental monitoring is a priority year-round, the approach of flu season, during which lower humidity levels outside place patients at a greater risk for contracting the virus, underscores the need for integrated technology that helps facilities fight the spread of bacteria and infection, as well as maintain compliance with standards set by the Association of Surgical Technologists.

The flu season is notorious for creating an influx of sick people visiting the emergency department. As we saw from the 2017-2018 season, hospitals must take extraordinary measures to treat and protect sick patients when the flu hits particularly hard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently reporting low levels of flu activity across the country and has not yet released expected numbers for the season.

Humidity Has a Big Role in Hospital Regulation and Safety

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) require the relative humidity of hospital operating rooms be at 20% in accordance with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 170. Additionally, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are expected to ensure that the humidity levels in operating rooms are compatible with manufacturers’ recommendations for any supplies and equipment used in that setting. These standards are in place to maintain a safe operating room environment.

Outside of operating rooms and labs, hospitals aren’t held to a standard for indoor-relative humidity levels. However, a recent study found lower indoor-relative humidity levels increase the risk for the spread of germs. When a room’s relative humidity levels drop below 40%, the space can become a breeding ground for viral infections, such as influenza, and bacteria. When a person gets a respiratory or viral infection, they produce aerosols that contain harmful and highly infectious microbes. At low humidity levels, it’s easy for these microbes to become and remain airborne for long periods of time. Additionally, less humid conditions dry out people’s nasal passages, which are their first form of defense against airborne viruses and pathogens, as well as allergens.

Managing Humidity Requirements Across Complex Hospital Systems

Maintaining varying levels of humidity within hospitals across multiple buildings with different room requirements can be a major challenge for healthcare operations managers and clinical directors, particularly with the approach of flu season. However, they can lower the risk of bacteria growth and the spread of viral infections like the flu with streamlined temperature and humidity monitoring using OneVue Sense Temperature and Humidity Sensors.

The intelligent sensors feature enhanced Wi-Fi communication and authentication protocols that meet today’s stringent IT security policies and eliminate the need for manual monitoring and data logging. Key features that make implementation and use easy, include:

  • No New Infrastructure Required: Primex sensors arrive ready to immediately access the existing IT network infrastructure to communicate with the OneVue cloud application. Simply power up and install.
  • Automated Phone, Email and Text Notifications: When sensors detect conditions are out of tolerance, the system automatically calls, emails or texts the key individual designated for the specific monitored asset at that time of day.
  • Customize Thresholds and Alerts: Unique threshold and alerting parameters can be set for each individual device or for groups of devices at one time.
  • Secure, Wireless Communication: All Primex OneVue sensors use advanced authentication and encryption protocols (including EAP-Fast, EAP-TLS, WEP, WPA and others), to ensure all communications are secure.
  • Quickly Generate Reports: OneVue automatically captures, stores and backs up monitoring data, eliminating lost and incomplete information logs. Data can be exported for compliance reports or regulatory audits with just a few clicks.
  • Easily Maintain Compliance: Monitoring capabilities and exported documentation meet or exceed the requirements of the TJC, CDC, VFC, FDA and State Boards of Pharmacy.

OneVue Sense Temperature and Humidity Sensors provide the assurance hospitals need when it comes to maintaining ideal temperature and humidity level ranges to protect patients and staff from exposure to airborne viral and bacterial infections.

To learn more about how you can protect your hospital from the flu this season with real-time temperature and humidity monitoring, visit primexinc.com/monitoring.

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