Negative pressure isolation space is an effective method to meet needed surge capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics. Planning for how and where to rapidly create a negative pressure isolation space is needed in congregate living areas such as skilled nursing facilities. In an article published in the American Journal of Infection Control (9-14-2020), they demonstrate the feasibility of using low-cost and in-house systems to quickly create a negative pressure within a skilled nursing facility hallway and to maintain these conditions, ionizing disease transmission between residents and staff.
In this study the researchers designed, implemented and validated an isolation space at a skilled nursing facility in Lancaster, PA. The overall goal was to minimize disease transmission between residents and staff within the facility. The process included modifying an existing HVAC system in the center. The researchers were successful at implementing a negative pressure isolate space within the SNF to contain SARS-CoV-2 transmission. The modifications were able to achieve and sustain negative pressures generating an ideal isolation unit for the residents with confirmed COVID-19 disease within the nursing facility.
The solution described in this publication should be viewed as a temporary and emergency solution. Further discussion needs to take place surrounding Life Safety Codes that incorporate air handling equipment either retrofitted or installed into new construction. Bottom line? Facilities should plan for the eventual need for a negative pressure isolation space when there is a surge of patients during an outbreak. Read the full article for more details and remember to stay well, stay safe and stay tuned!