Reconstruction of health care facilities after natural disasters

Many hospitals may be flooded due to wind and water damage during a natural disaster; Due to floods, some hospitals may remain flooded for a long time. Microorganisms, such as molds, fungal spores, and bacteria, can heavily contaminate equipment, structures, and even supplies. Before reopening, hospitals need to be inspected to determine 1.) whether the facility needs repairs and should be declared a disaster and closed or) if the damage is so severe that the facility can be repaired. Can be restored and reopened. Keep reading for more information,

When the decision has been made to repair and occupy buildings, damaged structures should be removed and dismantled to ensure that recyclable materials and items can be thoroughly dried or cleaned. can be repaired and restored to their original use.

Restoring an institution to its original function is a complex, multidisciplinary task, and completing the task requires the help of experts, engineers, specialists trained in building improvements, and medical equipment manufacturers.

After the repair work of the structure is completed and the building is returned to its original condition, regular inspection of the newly restored structure is necessary to detect mold growth and initiate eradication and prevention actions. Monitoring laboratory and clinical facilities within a healthcare facility will be important for unusual clusters of infectious diseases caused by environmental pathogens.

The information below is designed to help clean and open health care facilities. Contains links to electronic copies of recommendations issued by government institutions and professional associations. These recommendations are to be implemented in accordance with local and state certification requirements, final fire and building inspections, and other relevant requirements of local or state regulations.

Mold Remediation and Structural Recovery

Facilities that have been visibly damaged by rain, wind, or flooding, such as those that have suffered only a loss of power and air circulation (i.e., no standing water in the structure, but prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures and humidity) (if necessary), must be evaluated to determine the severity of the damage and determine if it is safe to manage the cleanup using the facilities’ internal resources as well as the facility’s staff.

Requirements for personal protective equipment and cleaning methods may vary according to the extent of damage (table). Confinement of the treatment area is optional if the building is vacant during the procedure.

Facilities with extensive water damage will benefit from assessment, treatment and recovery work provided by professionally trained remediation firms. For more info keep reading!

Buildings will first be subjected to a preliminary building and life safety inspection to determine if the building is safe to enter and whether it has electrical power that is safe to support cleaning operations. Additionally, the building needs to be evaluated to ensure fire safety and security. After troubleshooting is complete, the primary tasks involved in this process include:

  • Restoration of a functioning sewer system;
  • Drainage of stagnant water and sewage
  • reconstruction of drinking water system
  • Installation of an appropriate containment system for bioaerosols (i.e., if any part or area of ​​the building is being used);
  • The work area should be ventilated (for example, opening windows whenever this occurs), and procedures for removing damaged materials from the work area;
  • Removal of heavily contaminated or damaged materials and other construction products, especially porous materials (some construction materials such as insulation are not directly testable, and so moisture detection devices must be employed.);
  • Physical cleaning removes surface contamination from non-porous materials.
  • Surfaces should be treated with biocide or disinfectant if necessary;
  • Drying and re-evaluating the water content of remaining structural materials
  • Repair and rehabilitation of the structure, as well as repair of damaged objects;
  • Restoration of power supply and backup generators
  • Thorough cleaning and drying of salvageable porous items (for example, curtains, bedding). if possible,
  • Evaluation of medical equipment and medical infrastructure for support (for example, steam, medical gases, or compressed air) along with furniture, documents, and records, and supplies to be repaired
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in patient care areas.

Water and Electric Utilities

Before any improvement work can begin, it is important to restore functioning electrical, sewage and water systems. The electrical integrity of the system (for example, generator, insulation, wiring) is to be evaluated and repaired so that personnel working on the improvements can equip their equipment with adequate lighting and power when needed. An operating sewer system is essential to ensure efficient drainage of stagnant water.

Potable water distribution systems should also be inspected and any repairs needed. The “boil water” advice would probably apply at this point. It is recommended to speak with municipal water system officials to determine the status of water treatment concerns as the community restores critical services. Fire protection systems within a structure should be inspected and, if necessary, repaired.

ventilation system

Make sure the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system is not contaminated and assess the damage. Expert advice is useful in determining whether the system needs to be replaced or whether repair and cleaning is sufficient. If repair of existing systems is required, motorized parts (e.g., fans and blowers) should be inspected for damage caused by water, dirt, and debris.

Then, the water must be cleared from the ductwork and other components. Surfaces should be cleaned with disinfectants registered with the EPA and specifically suitable for treating ductwork, and insulation and filters should be replaced.

The HVAC components of the system, including the ductwork, which will never be submerged, should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to get rid of any mold or bacteria that may have spread during use of the system. The following steps should be considered:

  • Isolating the HVAC function of the treatment from cleaned portions of the facilities with barrier systems and negative pressure, as well as venting exhaust air to the outdoors;
  • Workers should employ protective equipment for the respiratory tract and eyes, skin and hearing.
  • Checking if asbestos is present in the HVAC system before remediation
  • replacing water-damaged insulation in and around HVAC systems;
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in the HVAC system or throwing away any damaged components and replacing them with new parts if that’s not possible.