The path forward for nursing homes and elderly care is clean air

For many elders, the threat of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 poses additional concerns, given that elders often have more compromised immune systems. What’s more, nursing homes and assisted living centers are prime areas where COVID-19 infections occur. According to the New York Times, 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths nationwide has occurred in nursing homes; as of September 16, 2020, the virus has also infected more than 479,000 people at some 19,000 facilities.

That’s because the residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities are in an age group most affected by the virus, and many residents have underlying conditions affected by COVID-19. What’s more, these locations are called “congregate facilities,” meaning they are places where people cannot leave, making removal of the virus difficult because the facilities can’t be completely disinfected. Couple that with the fact that in the early days of the pandemic, people from outside the facility brought the virus into it, creating “superspreader” events, and the devastation faced by nursing homes is daunting.

Infection control in nursing homes wasn’t a priority in the run up to the pandemic. For example, according to an analysis of Medicare data in California, almost 70 percent of nursing homes in the state didn’t have an infection control program prior to the pandemic. That meant the spread of the virus often went unchecked.

However, there are ways to lessen the potential for infection at nursing homes. According to the Washington Post: “The (CDC) had posted new guidelines suggesting the virus can transmit over a distance larger than six feet and that indoor ventilation is key to protection against its spread. This is a point that many independent experts have also been advancing, and it had appeared that the agency had come around to their point of view.”

Indeed, improving ventilation can be a boon. However, many nursing homes are ill-equipped to tackle the problem, because the HVAC systems are antiquated, or lack the intake, or draw, to take advantage of sophisticated—and thick—HEPA filters that can remove contaminants from the air. What’s more, these facilities—given the clientele often suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and can wander away—often have windows that can’t be opened.

One solution may lie in the installation of air purifiers, like the complete line of AeraMax Professional air purifier units. AeraMax Professional’s commercial-grade system uses a four-stage filtration system to effectively and efficiently remove up to 99.97 percent of airborne contaminants, like flu virus, germs, bacteria, allergens, odors and dust, from indoor enclosed spaces. Part of the four-stage system includes a True HEPA filter that is typical of the kind found in hospital air purification systems. These systems can be placed in common areas, boosting air quality and removing harmful contaminants to help with infection control.

That’s the route taken prior to the pandemic by CEO Ben Levesque of Finley Regional Care, a 75-bed elder care facility in Finley, NSW, Australia. He installed a number of AeraMax Professional air purifiers to combat infection control in high-traffic common areas, as well as to help with accreditation from a health standards organization. “We’ve seen a lot of (improvement) since we installed AeraMax Professional,” Levesque says. “particular odor control, as well as infections and sick leave of our staff. We’ve had feedback from the residents on how much fresher the environment is. If you’re serious about infection control and improving air quality, I definitely recommend these units.”