Pandemic-driven air-and-surface room decontamination, along with heightened hand hygiene, wearing masks and quarantining has generated a variety of bonus outcomes, such as severely reducing the incidents of colds and flu. But that’s not all.
Infection prevention and environmental services experts highlight other bonuses that healthcare organizations and the general public have gleaned from following pandemic protocols to the letter as well as other concerns to watch.
Deborah Chung, North America Marketing Manager – Healthcare,
Essity Professional Hygiene
Healthcare organizations mobilized
“From the common cold to SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the pandemic placed an undeniable importance on tackling infectious diseases across the spectrum, which eventually led to the decrease of the forementioned incidents. With the deployment of advanced disinfection measures to tackle more commonplace diseases, other similarly susceptible pathogens are simultaneously being addressed. By continuing this trend well after the pandemic, hospitals are facing reduced patient liability and costs, as well as ensuring controlled environments by infection preventionists and similar risk mitigation departments. Additionally, a more refined understanding and scrutiny of disinfection methods are being demonstrated by healthcare professionals, business owners, and many others.”
Halden Shane, DPM, Chairman & CEO, TOMI Environmental Solutions Inc.
Understanding ultraviolet effectiveness
Richard Hayes, President, UVDI
Dramatic clarion call to action
Clinically, operationally taking pandemics more seriously
“Telemedicine and telehealth played an important role during the pandemic, and we'll continue to see it utilized when the pandemic is over. Telemedicine reduces the number of people in waiting rooms and medical offices, and it reduces the stress of travel to healthcare facilities. Hand hygiene was also a major focus during the pandemic, and I think people have a new appreciation for the importance of washing their hands.”
Mark Stibich, Ph.D., FIDSA, Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer,
Xenex Healthcare Services
“Keeping environmental service workers safe and applying good practices and protections for their work will keep everyone safer. Although some of the new protocols were temporary, like using alternative products, will go away as the availability stabilizes. Others, like increasing education and training and use of adjunct technology to improve overall ventilation, such as with the Vidashield UV 24 system, should continue to be implemented because it has proven to be a valuable tool to control SARs-CoV-2 contamination and COVID-19 transmission.
Karen Hoffman, R.N., CIC, FSHEA, FAPIC, Epidemiologist and Infection Prevention Consultant for NUVO Surgical and Vidashield, clinical instructor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine in Chapel Hill and immediate past president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).
Product alternatives for future challenges
David St. Clair, Executive Chairman, Halosil International Inc.
Eye-opening education on viral spread
“The pandemic has educated most of us on how pathogens spread. Hand-washing, hand sanitizing and awareness of how many times we touch our faces must continue. This is a great outcome, and awareness of aerosolized pathogens and education on how bugs spread will be a large part of public health initiatives to come. One terrible outcome of this pandemic is the politicization of science. Conversely, this same argument can be made for the general mistrust of all media as people are getting smarter, inquisitive and well read. Everyone is aware of the risk of pandemics moving forward. Ignorance is bliss, and luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. We are no longer ignorant, so we are stressed. We are more prepared than last year. When the next wave hits, we might just get lucky.”
Brian Donahue, Director, Sales & Corporate Accounts, Finsen Technologies Ltd.
Sam Trapani, CEO, Steriliz LLC
Holistic approach to environmental infection control
J. Hudson Garrett Jr., Ph.D., MSN, MPH, MBA, FNP-BC, IP-BC, PLNC, CFER, AS-BC, VA-BC, BC-MSLcert, NREMT, MSL-BC, DICO-C, TR-C, CPPS, CPHQ, FACDONA, FAAPM, FNAP, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine, Faculty, Center for Education and Training in Infection Prevention (CETIP), Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine; President & CEO, Community Health Associates LLC, which serves as a consultant to Clorox Healthcare
The butterfly effect
“Many infectious disease illnesses have trended way below their normal averages since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic may have led to reduced cases. Interventions such as lockdowns, especially in schools and daycares, restaurant closures, physical distancing, heightened hygiene awareness and practices such as handwashing, disinfection and wearing of face masks may have helped curb other illnesses during this period.
“Now with the reopening of schools, daycares and community activities, we will likely see an increase or even surges in many viruses and illnesses that we’ve kept at bay during the COVID-19 pandemic. Respiratory illnesses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), adenovirus, rhinovirus and even influenza may be gearing up for a huge surge in the coming months. We are already seeing a surge in RSV, which prompted an alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1 Additionally, a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) article noted that, “circulation of respiratory viruses could resume at pre-pandemic levels after COVID-19 mitigation practices become less stringent. Clinicians should be aware of increases in some respiratory virus activity and remain vigilant for off-season increases.” 2
Deva Rea, R.N., CIC, Clinical Science Liaison, PDI