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The Role of an Engineering Team in Infection Control

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Engineering and Infection Control have, at times, been seen as separate entities functioning independently of each other (except for a construction project). This was especially true in the past, but current trends show these two areas are essential in supporting each other daily. Today, infection control requires staff to work directly with each other to meet and ensure patient’s needs.

In the past, directors of engineering involved infection control once a year to provide them with the annual testing report on pressures. Currently, the area of infection control has evolved and rolled into the field of engineering to include construction design, layout, counter design, and identifying locations where specific air pressure needs are desired.  

Working with your infection control team can help you become more efficient in your position as well. Understanding exactly what your infection control team needs help with during pre-construction design and will ultimately minimize changes during a project.  

Here are some more ideas to help you integrate infection control within your team.

  1. Work with your team on identifying finishes, i.e., counters, casework, paint, and flooring that have been tested to ensure that they are easily cleanable, wipeable and durable. Utilize those as your standard on future projects. Have the manufacturer provide you with any case studies on the product regarding infection control testing.
  2. If not already in place, identify air pressure indicators that work with your system to help automate the monitoring process for you. Use your infection control staff to help you justify the need for consistent air monitoring. Have them provide case studies that identify the advantages of real-time tracking.
  3. Have staff attend training on the importance of cleaning their work area to help minimize pathogen transmission. Additionally, ensure the training includes an engineering overtone to assist staff in understanding the importance of their roles in infection control and how it can personally affect them.

Being able to integrate some of these ideas into your engineering program will help you prepare upfront and minimize pitfalls during your construction phase with relation to infection control related issues. Additionally, it enables you to strengthen the relationship between two departments that will only become more involved in the future once COVID-19 changes are implemented.

In closing, I would recommend you educate yourself to upcoming infection control trends. You will be surprised when both departments help each other to the point it becomes a mutually beneficial advantage for acquiring equipment or implementing a design. As we all know, in this day and age in healthcare, justification is everything.

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