As the queues for Covid patients are never ending, the queues of non-Covid patients waiting to be operated for other ailments are getting longer. An interesting and interactive webinar with leading microbiologists touched on prime factors to reopen OTs.
When even stepping out for fresh air is an exercise fraught with risk, the thought of making a trip to the doctor’s clinic for a bearable pain or a longstanding symptom is beyond reckoning. Hospitals are full of patients being treated for Covid-19, while other medical and surgical conditions have taken a backseat.
The pandemic is a mask that is covering an underlying pool of diseases that urgently need to be treated. Cancer does not slow down for corona, toothaches do not go on a break because of a virus. There is a massive pool of patients who need urgent surgical attention, who have already avoided hospitals for too long. They are waiting for hospitals and operations theatres to reopen.
To discuss exactly how this can be accomplished, leading microbiologists, infection control specialists, hospital administrators, facility management professionals and other stakeholders in maintaining hospital hygiene came together to attend a critical webinar organised by the Clean India Journal on ‘Healthcare: Is safety your choice or compulsion?’
The webinar was kicked off with a session on ‘Ventilation and Air Handling Systems in Healthcare for SARS-CoV2’, presented by Dr Rohini Kelkar, former Head of Department of Microbiology, Tata Memorial Hospital (Mumbai), who harnessed her decades of experience in hospital infection control to proffer practical ways in which HVAC systems in Operation Theatres (OTs) can be maintained and modified to minimise the risk of virus transmission among patients and healthcare personnel.
Her up-to-date, to-the-point talk was followed by a lively discussion on
‘Reopening OTs – Challenges and Safe Solutions’. On the panel were clinical
microbiologists and facility management veterans who are currently tackling Covid at their respective hospitals and workplaces. Each speaker was generous in sharing science-backed ways in which to restart OTs in the new normal.
Attended by scores of stakeholders in hospital and OT sanitisation, the panel featured well-informed, expert speakers like Dr Murali Chakravarthy, Director – Clinical Affairs & Chairman, Central Infection Prevention & Control Committee, Fortis Hospitals, Dr Aruna Poojary, Head of Dept, Dept of Pathology & Microbiology, Breach Candy Hospital Trust (Mumbai), Dr Pravin Nair, Consultant Microbiologist & Head – Infection Control, Holy Spirit Hospital (Mumbai), Dr Raju J George, CEO Shihab Thangal Hospital, Tirur (Kerala), Dr Dhruv Mamtora, HOD Microbiology & Infection Control, Wadia Hospitals (Mumbai) and Mr Edward D’souza, President – Service Master India and Director – Rare Hospitality. Their insights are summarised elsewhere in this issue.
The panel discussion led to a session on ‘How to make hospitals safe’ led by Sam Cherian, MD – Schevaran Laboratories Pvt Ltd, the sponsors for the webinar. Benjamin Alexander, Director Sales-Schevaran Laboratories, showcased a range of products that can help healthcare institutions contain and tackle Covid.
For example, he spoke of products from Filmop such as anti-bacterial trolleys and bacteria-free mops, which are particularly useful for the present times. A standout product was colour-coded disposable wipes which can clean 12-15 square meters of surfaces, thus preventing cross contamination.
As ever, Schevaran is in a position to perform an audit at each facility and offer solutions customized to its specific needs. The latter is possible because of the Schevaran Innovation Centre, consisting of a team of microbiologists and chemists who have been developing specific solutions that have proved their efficacy over years, and are even more in demand during the pandemic.
Cherian was also joined by Dr Paolo, Export Manager, Filmop. He reminded the audience that without first cleaning a surface with detergent, the efficiency of the disinfectant is reduced. Accordingly, he has developed cleaning trolleys with two buckets, one each for detergent and disinfectant.
The webinar continued beyond its scheduled time, but attendees stayed back until the end, even though it was a weekend. Cherian delivered the vote of thanks, and agreed with the others in saying that such a useful session should be replicated, repeated and amplified for the edification of more and more people
• To sum up everything that has been said so far, I think we can agree that hygiene and sanitation in healthcare in the times of Covid need to begin much before a surgery, and must continue long after a surgery.
• From testing to PPE to cleaning and housekeeping, a number of interventions can be made at multiple points in the treatment chain to minimise the possibility of Covid transmission. This risk cannot be eliminated, but it can certain be minimised to acceptable levels.
• The three variables in an OT are patients, healthcare staff and the OT environment, all of which need to be protected/ sanitised. This brings us to the fourth and fifth variables: cleaning chemicals/tools/ machines and the team which uses them.
• Covid is here to stay, at least for a while. We cannot postpone surgeries indefinitely; instead we need to evolve along with dynamic conditions and tighten our already stringent SOPs to make sure we break the chain of transmission.
We thank Schevaran Laboratories Pvt. Ltd for partnering with Clean India
Journal for this webinar.
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