The coronavirus pandemic has underlined the need for all hospitals and healthcare locations to maintain the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene as they try to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Tecomak Environmental Services provide HTM 03-01 verification for many critical care settings, including isolation rooms and units. Here we look at the different types of isolation facilities and how we can help maintain them to the very highest of standards.


Why Isolate?

Many patients may be at a heightened risk of infection from other patients, owing to a weakened immune system. In situations like this they need to be put in what is called ‘protective isolation’.

However, in many cases patients have already contracted an infection and healthcare staff need to stop this spreading to other people (visitors and staff, as well as other patients). In cases like this the patient with the infection needs to be put in what is known as ‘source isolation’.

The third option is to provide ‘cohort nursing’, where groups of patients who have the same infection can be isolated on the same part of a ward. The Nightingale Hospitals, which have been built to exclusively look after coronavirus patients, is one type of this.


How is Isolation Achieved?

Patients can be isolated by varying the air pressure of the room or unit. Positive air pressure means clear, filtered air is sucked into the room, ensuring that harmful bacteria is kept out. This type of arrangement is suitable if you want to create a protective isolation room.

Negative air pressure will pull air into the room, where it can then be filtered and recirculated outside. This is effective in creating a source isolation unit, where the patient is already carrying an infection which you don’t want to be transmitted to other people.

Hospitals can use single rooms with en-suite facilities to create an isolation room. If the infection can only be spread by a non-airborne route (such as physical contact) then no special ventilation system may be needed. If, however, the infection can be spread through the air, then the room’s ventilation system is an essential tool in creating the correct environment, whether that is through positive or negative air pressure.

The most effective way of creating a truly safe environment is to place the patient in a single room with en-suite facilities and a positive-pressure ventilated lobby, which creates a barrier between the patient’s room and the rest of the hospital.

It is also essential that healthcare staff should be notified immediately of any problems with the ventilation system via an alarm system.


What are the Regulatory Requirements?

Given the importance of the ventilation systems, it is essential that they are inspected quarterly and verified at least annually according to the requirements of Health Technical Memorandum 03-01. Items which need to be checked include the HEPA filters, via DOP integrity testing.

Isolation facilities that provide protective isolation for infectious patients are also classed as Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) Systems and require specialist testing and comprehensive service records to comply with regulations laid down by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations of 2002.


HTM 03-01 Verification Services from Tecomak

Tecomak Environmental Services will ensure that any hospital or healthcare location is fully compliant with the requirements of both HTM 03-01 and COSHH. This applies not just to isolation rooms but any critical care environments, including operating theatres, intensive care and high dependency units and neonatal care departments. Our experienced engineers produce professional reports which are archived for five years and can be re-issued at no extra charge.

In isolation rooms, we also check that any built-in alarm systems which indicate a problem with the air pressure are functioning correctly. We also offer a six-log biological decontamination service on an as-needed basis or as part of a regular rolling contract, to ensure that any isolation room is kept free from harmful pathogens.

If you would like to know more about our HTM 03-01 verification services for isolation rooms, you can click here or call us on 01732 852250.