Whether you’re in the healthcare industry or not, it’s no secret that the presence of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in hospitals is a major issue across the country, and has been for decades. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), only ten diseases are responsible for approximately 84% of hospital visits and patient complications upon admittance to a hospital (1). Some of these diseases include norovirus, influenza, staph infection, and even tuberculosis. Despite major technological advances over the last several decades, HAIs remain rampant in healthcare spaces.
The CDC reports that on any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection (2)—a major incidence that is (and should be) preventable in most cases. At surface level, this may seem like a problem that only healthcare industry folks can tackle, but this is a problem that is more times than not caused by poor airflow in a facility. Fortunately, the energy management industry is making important strides in this space.
Airflow matters in preventing infectious diseases
Poor air flow not only causes higher utility bills, energy loss, and potential research integrity or production loss—of higher concern is that it can cause safety hazards like HAIs. Poor air flow control can be an issue in your facility for several reasons, like:
- Installation issues caused by duct runs that are not as straight or as long as required.
- Slow speed of response due to measuring delays.
- Instability due to pressure variation.
- Sensor drift requiring frequent recalibration.
- Unbalanced airflow demanding additional balancing/commissioning work.
- Clogging of sensors necessitating periodic maintenance.
Properly functioning air valves not only help facilities conserve energy and save money—most importantly, it helps keep their facilities and occupants safe. Unfortunately, not all air valves on the market do this. That’s where the Phoenix Controls Valves with Alerton BACtalk VLC-1188 valve controllers (3).
Phoenix Control Valves: Designed with healthcare facilities in mind
In partnership with Alerton BACtalk VLC-1188 valve controllers, Phoenix Controls (4) valve controllers offer solutions for all critical airflow applications, from laboratories to multi-discipline Life Science environments and healthcare facilities. This line of air valves allows for proper directional airflow, which is required for maintaining proper pressurization of spaces, which directly impacts infection control.
Specifically designed for healthcare critical space ventilation requirements, the Phoenix Control valves are perfectly suited for areas where infection control, energy savings and reduced maintenance costs are important considerations. These systems are also highly flexible, which is a much-appreciated quality for owners who want the ability to convert spaces to purposes other than originally intended for pandemic readiness or revenue-generating procedures.
Phoenix Controls valves provide variable air volume (VAV) and constant volume solutions for directional airflow, climate control and overall ventilation balance. They also modulate airflow to meet occupancy, ventilation and thermal requirements while exhaust or return valves modulate to maintain zone balance/directional airflow.
Phoenix Air Valves offer several System Benefits, including:
- Factory characterization reduces system commissioning time.
- Mechanical pressure-independent valves avoid rebalancing costs.
- No maintenance such as flow sensors.
- High turndown ratios contribute to reducing energy costs.
- Supply valve pre-configured for three valve application.
- All valves are shut-off capable for decontamination when ordered with Valve Design S (standard shut-off) or L (low leakage shut-off).
- I/O is available and fully programmable.
- Room-level communication via BACnet. MS/TP.
By maintaining precise pressurization, this air valve ensures the minimum amount of airflow is used. By minimizing air change rates, owners can achieve energy savings while also ensuring safety.
Can Air Valves kill infectious diseases?
While proper air flow and technological advances in air valves, such as the Phoenix Air Valve with Alerton, can indeed make a significant difference, these air valves alone will not stop the presence of infectious diseases in healthcare facilities. Other cleanliness practices and procedures must be established, clearly communicated and abided by a facility’s staff—no exceptions.
Still, the energy management industry is hoping to see major improvements to stop the spread of infectious diseases with the help of products like the Phoenix Air Valve and others. Hopefully we’ll see these improvements reflect in the next CDC study in the upcoming years.