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Flooding preparedness needs to include infection prevention and control strategies
Date:1/9/2013

Flooding can cause clinical and economic damage to a healthcare facility, but reopening a facility after extensive flooding requires infection prevention and control preparedness plans to ensure a safe environment for patients and healthcare workers. In a study published in the February issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, clinical investigators report key findings and recommendations related to the closure and re-opening of hospitals impacted by black-water floods. The guidance builds on lessons learned from Thailand and the United States. The findings come as many flood-damaged healthcare facilities in New York and New Jersey look to reopen in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

"The decision to close a hospital or healthcare system because of extensive flooding involves risk mitigation for the health and safety of both patients and healthcare workers," said Anucha Apisarnthanarak, MD, the lead author and an infectious diseases physician at Thammasat University Hospital in Thailand. "Reopening a hospital should be contingent upon assurance of a safe environment that includes clean water for ingestion, hand hygiene, food preparation, and adequate disposal of sewage, waste water, and medical waste."

Reopening of hospitals after excessive flooding requires a balance between meeting the medical needs of the surrounding communities and restoration of a safe hospital environment. Post-flood hospital preparedness plans require interdisciplinary expertise from infection control personnel, environmental health and safety personnel, structural engineers, clinical staff, and hospital administrators. The authors discuss several practical issues relevant to reopening a healthcare system after extensive flooding:

  • Removal of flood waters and site inspection
  • Cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and materials
  • Remediation of mold through evaluation of
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Contact: Kate Enos
kenos@gymr.com
202-745-5071
Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America
Source:Eurekalert

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