Hospitals in the United States see as many as 36.4 million admissions every year. And for patients and families who spend more than a just few hours in a hospital, chances are they will end up eating at least one meal courtesy of a hospital foodservice operator. In fact, those foodservice operations generate a significant amount of income for a hospital.
What is COVID-19?
In the midst of this global pandemic, it is critical for our customers to be aware of COVID-19 and what it means for our industry. The coronavirus and subsequent COVID-19 disease has made its way across the globe, and it’s having impacts on the foodservice industry that have never been seen before.
Once COVID-19 initiated its outbreak in the United States, it was critical that nursing homes and senior care communities start taking the initial action. With these residents being at the top of the high-risk list for catching and having a higher fatality rate, a new level of compliance is being demanded.
Senior meal deliveries vary across care facilities based on the mobility and health of each resident. While some of these practices have been in place for some senior care homes, having options and a variety is a part of senior care. With the COVID-19 outbreak happening across the nation, there are new practices that your home will have to consider in order to continue providing a healthy menu with options while serving these residents safely.
Hospitals are diligently working to limit the spread of COVID-19 in their facilities. Isolating symptomatic patients as soon as possible is a key factor for infection control in healthcare settings. With the goal of minimizing exposure to patients and healthcare personnel, hospitals are working fast to set up isolation areas and triage tents.
Hospitals are sectioning off isolation areas, where a limited number of healthcare personnel are allowed access. Triage tents are set up outside of hospitals, where visitors are screened coming into the hospital in order to limit the number of individuals entering the facility and the spread of infection within the facility. Equipment and supplies utilized in these units are restricted to these areas as another method to limit infection spread. This is pushing hospitals to allocate resources to isolation areas and triage tents to handle a surge of COVID-19 cases.
The World Health Organization lists guidance for strengthening clinical management of COVID-19 patients. Triage is the first step in recognizing and sorting patients based on their symptoms. Since much of COVID-19 testing is manual, triage tents are beneficial for creating an alternative space for testing away from other patient areas. Many of these tents are being set up outdoors and are similar to tents you might see at a large event. Inside the tent, hospitals are preparing to supply the equipment necessary for efficient screening. A look inside these tents shows some of the items hospitals are accounting for in their triage tents.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a priority for triage tents. This include gloves, masks, gowns and other equipment that serves as an infection barrier for healthcare personnel and infected patients.
- PPE must be stored in an accessible and sanitary environment that is easily transportable by healthcare personnel. Stainless steel Lakeside Case Carts are manufactured in various sizes and weight capacities allow hospitals to select the best fit for their triage space.
- Healthcare personnel are also taking more extensive protection measures by wearing impermeable gowns and Power Air Purifying Respirators or N95 Respirators and eye protection. These are only some of the various examples that are being used in triage tents to protect against airborne illnesses.
- Mobile handwashing stations are units supplied with soap and water to maintain high sanitary standards for healthcare professionals in triage tents. Units like the Lakeside Compact Portable Handwashing Station help conserve space and are easily transportable.
- Tables and chairs must be set up for healthcare workers to better triage patients coming into the hospital. The setup design also serves as physical barrier to prevent patients from easily walking into the hospital before being properly triaged.
- Emergency carts are designed to easily access life-saving equipment and medication in the event that a patient needs emergency treatment. They are typically located throughout most hospital departments as a precautionary measure. The lightweight Persolife Emergency Cart allows easy accessibility to vital healthcare supplies.
Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms (AIIRs) are a standard for hospitals but many facilities are anticipating that existing capacity will not be sufficient during this time. AIIRs use negative air pressure to prevent airborne illnesses from escaping the room and infecting others. These areas have been used for illnesses such as tuberculosis or measles in the past. With a looming surge of COVID-19 patients, hospitals need to prepare additional space for isolation beyond AIIRs.
Hospitals are evaluating their population sizes to predict isolation space needed for a surge at their hospital. Some examples include hospitals working with local universities to prepare overflow space in empty student dormitories for patients who are not critically ill and transforming certain ICU units into COVID-19 units. Hospitals are also preparing for equipment shortages in these spaces by reusing PPE and converting respiratory equipment into functional ventilators. Some of the tactics hospitals are employing to get isolation areas up and running include:
- Using parts of the ER, ICU or other patient care areas to separate known or suspected cases.
- Making handwashing stations readily available upon entrance and exit into isolation areas with adequate handwashing supplies. Mobile sinks, like the Lakeside Mobile Hand Washing Station, may prove valuable for this purpose.
- Removing all non-essential furniture and utilize only furniture that is easy to clean.
- Utilize carts outside the isolation area to ensure PPE is readily available before entering. The National Center for Biotechnology Information has a checklist specifically for stocking isolation area carts.
- Use mobile, hands free waste disposal systems inside the isolation area. Accessories like the Lakeside Trash Bag Kit attach onto case carts.
- Hospitals are also setting up carts for dedicated patient supplies within the patient’s reach. Water, tissue and other personal hygiene items should be easily accessible. It is critical that the cart can be thoroughly disinfected before use by other patients. Carts like the Lakeside Guard Rail Cart are a great solution.
Lakeside is closely monitoring hospital supply needs for the COVID-19 pandemic. Lakeside will continue to work hard to provide updates on equipment needs for hospitals and other healthcare facilities as the situation continues to evolve.
We are working hard to ensure our supply meets the increasing demand at this time. If your organization has any questions on carts for special facilities, please reach out to our sales team.
Amidst the global spread of COVID-19, sanitization is more important than ever, especially for healthcare facilities, who are on the front lines of the battle against this pandemic. Sanitary equipment is imperative to slowing the spread of COVID-19, and our healthcare facilities need access to increased amounts of supplies such as masks, ventilators, hospital beds, emergency carts, and other ancillary equipment. While hospitals are investing in additional supplies, we must consider what materials are best suited to combat this situation. Medical equipment is manufactured with various types of metals, plastics, and more. But which is the best for safety and sanitization? The consensus of the medical community is widely agreed upon: stainless steel.
What is stainless steel?
Stainless steels are iron-based alloys that contain at least 10.5% chromium and 1.2% or less carbon. There are many different types or grades of stainless steel which are created by altering the percentages of its contents, and adding in different metals and elements such as:
In fact, there are over 50 different grades of stainless steel. Grades such as 200 and 400 series are widely used but they all share properties that cause this metal to have its unique sterilization capabilities. Stainless Steel gets its “claim to fame” due to its ability to resist rust and corrosion. This property is due to the addition of chromium which creates a chromium-oxide film on the surface when exposed to oxygen. This film acts as a barrier between the steel and the environment. If the film is broken, it has the ability to self-heal, as long as oxygen is present. With this ability, stainless steel makes an excellent choice for medical equipment that is constantly wiped down, washed and cleaned. All this cleaning would likely damage other materials but this where stainless really shines! It’s chromium-oxide film allows it to heal itself after getting beat up by the variety of cleaning methods necessary in a healthcare environment.
Why is stainless steel the hygienic standard in healthcare facilities?
The unique capability to self-heal helps create a surface that is very easy to sanitize in comparison to other materials used widely in medical equipment. Other materials such as ceramics, plastics and polymers are susceptible to micro cracks, dents, and scratches which harbor bacteria and other germs. Oftentimes these micro cracks are invisible to the naked eye, making these materials especially challenging to thoroughly clean. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is highly durable and resistant to cracks, dents and scratches. Its natural film protects the metal and reduces the amount of maintenance necessary. With all this in mind, it becomes clear why other materials cannot steel the crown from stainless steel as the king of durability and cleanability.
We can also see why stainless steel is widely used in medical applications. Not only is it extremely durable, but it is also an easy material to work with as it can be cut, welded, and shaped very easily, while providing extra strength. Stainless steel also lasts much longer than other materials and won’t scratch and dent over time. This makes stainless steel an excellent investment that ensures easy cleaning and low maintenance for years to come. Stainless steel also has high temperature resistance, meaning that even in high temperature environments it won’t deform or break under mechanical stress unlike many other materials.
Common Medical Applications of Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is used for a variety of different medical applications including:
- Surgical Instruments
- Case Carts
- Utility Carts
Stainless steel is specifically useful for utility carts as they must be able to carry heavy loads, while not being too heavy by themselves. Additionally, the sanitary element is very important for utility carts in healthcare facilities, and stainless steel provides the best surface to ensure safe and sanitary equipment. A great example of the strength of stainless steel comes from the Lakeside 444 Utility Cart which has a capacity of 500 lbs. while only weighing 68 lbs. itself. Utility carts like this have the best durability and value, because they will last much longer than a similar cart made from aluminum or a different alloy.
Importance of Stainless Steel During COVID-19
The ongoing pandemic is pushing the healthcare industry to the limit, and the need for safe and sanitary equipment is at an all-time high. Because COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, it spreads very easily, and healthcare facilities and equipment must be sanitized effectively. It is recommended that healthcare facilities assign the daily cleaning and disinfection of high touch surfaces to the nurses and personnel who will already be in close contact with the patient. The use of stainless steel instead of plastic or aluminum equipment makes the sterilization process simpler and takes a load off the healthcare professionals who are tasked with the job of cleaning these hazardous surfaces.
Lakeside Manufacturing is committed to supporting medical facilities with rapid manufacturing and shipping times. Our facility remains open and operational under the essential business provisions granted by local and federal guidelines. Please reach out if your facility is in need of case carts or utility carts during this challenging time. Lakeside is prepared to support increased demand of stainless steel products and remains dedicated to providing quality healthcare solutions.
Medical communities around the globe are more preoccupied than ever with disinfecting equipment. COVID-19 is changing the conversation about how we clean, not only in medical facilities but also at home and throughout our communities. With stainless steel being the preferred material by the medical community, it is imperative that we understand how to properly sanitize stainless steel equipment. Lakeside manufactures a wide variety of stainless steel medical carts, shelves and accessories and we’ve put together a guide on how to accomplish this.
Selecting a Disinfectant
According to a study from the National Institute of Health, the virus that causes COVID-19 was detectable on up to three days on stainless steel products. Therefore, verifying that the correct product is being used to disinfect surfaces is paramount. The Environment Protection Agency created a list of disinfectants that are effective against COVID-19.
While bleach should generally be avoided for cleaning stainless steel products, common products such as Lysol Spray or Lysol Wipes can be used on stainless steel. If you decide to use a product of this type, it is extremely important that you rinse the surface thoroughly with fresh water. Lysol and similar products can be abrasive to stainless steel if the substance is on the surface of the stainless steel for an extended period.
Using the Right Tools
Prior to cleaning and disinfecting any surface, it is imperative to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). There are four major types of PPE including face shields, gloves, goggles, and gowns. At minimum gloves and eye protection should be used before cleaning any potentially contaminated surface.
Certain cleaning utensils like steel wool or other steel brushes are too abrasive for stainless steel. These types of tools can contain iron particles. When used to clean stainless steel, they can leave metal particles on the surface and lead to rust formation. A soft cloth, gentle brushes, or sponges are much better alternatives.
The Cleaning Process
To effectively sanitize a stainless steel surface, it is recommended to begin by using hot soap and water. Using your towel, you can then begin to use any additional cleaning solutions. Always rub in the direction of the steel grain for maximum effectiveness and to avoid scratching the surface.
After all disinfectants are applied, rinse the surface thoroughly with fresh, warm water. Always remember to completely wipe the surface dry. This process should be repeated after every disinfecting operation. As always – and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic – frequent cleaning is strongly recommended.
Lakeside Manufacturing is committed to supporting medical facilities with rapid manufacturing and lead times. Our facility remains open and operational under the essential business provisions granted by local and federal guidelines. Lakeside is prepared to support increased demand of stainless steel products and remains dedicated to providing quality healthcare solutions. For more information about the stainless steel carts we have available, please review our Healthcare Catalog.
As we’ve seen over the last few weeks and months, the coronavirus and the subsequent disease it causes, COVID-19, can have horrific effects on the residents and staff in senior care communities.
In part, this is likely due to the fact the disease has harsher impacts on our older population. It is also likely attributed to the close quarters in which everyone lives in senior care and long term communities. This means it’s even more important to make sure meal preparation and delivery are completed with care.
As a result, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have issued new guidelines for these types of operations. It puts critical limitations on visitors and personnel who have access to senior and long-term care communities in order to help shield residents from potential infection.
“As we learn more about the Coronavirus from experts on the ground, we’ve learned that seniors with multiple conditions are at the highest risk for infection and complications, so CMS is using every tool at our disposal to keep nursing homes free from infection,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Temporarily restricting visitors and nonessential workers will help reduce the risk of Coronavirus spread in nursing homes, keeping residents safe. The Trump Administration is working around the clock to ensure the continued safety of America’s health care system, particularly nursing homes.”
This is where the SuzyQ Cart System can help foodservice directors.
We’ve talked about how SuzyQ can benefit both residents and operators in a dining room setting. There’s no doubt it can help solve labor challenges and provide for self-determined meal choices in group settings, but it can also do that in other ways, as well.
One of the ways senior care communities are required to fight the potential spreading of the coronavirus is to eliminate meal times in the dining hall to avoid a cluster of too many people at once. As a result, these meals are now being taken directly to the residents’ rooms for in-room dining.
Now, this is where self-determined meals can be even more important. Because foods need to be transported across longer distances, preserving the quality of food and providing residents with choice a critical way to meet person-centered guidelines while avoiding food waste and preserving safety.
The state-of-the-art delivery SuzyQ Cart System contains features that provide these types of benefits. It’s guest-pleasing and cost-saving for operators.
Watch the recorded webinar for free from Registered Dietitian and Certified Dietary Manager, Suzanne Quiring for a review of COVID19 and what Food Service professionals need to lean into during this national crisis. Topics covered:
- Infection control
- Good food handling techniques
- Staff communication
- Practical ideas on providing meal service when a dining room can't be used
- Resources to support your leadership role needs during this uncertain time