Nursing Homes Rethink Ventilation’s Role in Pandemic

December 23, 2020

When COVID-19 broke out in March, among the first measures that many healthcare facilities put in place was enhanced sanitization, especially on surfaces that could harbor the coronavirus. Soon, however, facility managers and others responsible for keeping facilities safe and healthy realized that another area required their attention even more — ventilation systems. Now many healthcare organizations are analyzing the ventilation in their facilities to identify weaknesses in HVAC systems and strategies to improve their performance.

For example, nearly two-thirds of the nursing homes in Connecticut are more than 50 years old, raising questions about whether facilities equipped with older HVAC systems, poor ventilation and problematic interior designs were ill-suited to contain the coronavirus as it spread through facilities like wildfire, according to the Hartford Courant.

The newspaper conducted an analysis of all 213 nursing homes licensed in the state and reviewed records of those that have recently renovated their facilities and death and infection statistics provided by the state. Among the findings: The state has never done a comprehensive building analysis of its nursing homes, discovering only after the virus hit that many of them have the original HVAC systems and also offered little opportunity in terms of layout to separate infected residents — a key step in trying to stop the virus once it gets inside.

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