Cleanrooms and hospitals. We talk a lot about pharmaceuticals and other medical devices being developed in cleanrooms… But cleanrooms actually IN hospitals? Well, to be fair, they aren’t cleanrooms in the way we are used to them. They use the same principles and protections of the industrial cleanrooms we are accustomed to in order to protect critical and compromised patients.
We see these kinds of rooms in US hospitals often (in fact, they’re used to fight COVID-19!), but other areas of the world are not so fortunate. The good news is that we are seeing this life-saving, powerful technology make its way around the world!
On Tuesday, November 2, the Rebagliati Hospital in Lima, Peru, introduced some of these antiseptic rooms into their hospital - the first in the country. They are in use in the Allogeneic Transplant Unit, which uses Airborne Contamination Monitoring for air quality control.
Patients in this unit are immunocompromised (“allogeneic” means “transplanted”), so they require extra levels of protection. The use of this cleanroom-Esque technology protects them from airborne contaminants!
The facility is an isolated environment that uses cleanroom features such as automated doors, an airlock, air extractors, HEPA filters, and a regulated ventilation system. It is also backed by a real-time monitoring system that will alert the proper authorities if there is contamination in the rooms.
So how exactly do these rooms work?
There are a number of environmental sensors installed in the room. Some of these include temperature and humidity, differential pressure, air velocity, and particle concentration. These sensors monitor the environmental parameters needed to ensure the patients are in the perfect air conditions for their optimal healing.
As an example of similar sensors that we carry, you could use the ApexZ to monitor particle concentration. Our Remote TRH sensor monitors temperature and humidity, and the Remote DP sensor can help you understand your air pressure. Lastly, the remote AV sensor lets you know what your air velocity is. This combination of sensors gives you a uniquely powerful understanding of your environment.
In a hospital setting, specifically in the new transplant unit in Lima, Peru, these sensors communicate with a control cabinet. The cabinet’s purpose is to interpret and translate the signals into usable information that is sent to a computer monitored by medical personnel.
The sensors in the room monitor the cleanliness, but they only work partnered with the filters. The HEPA filters used to clean the air coming into the rooms allow the unit to be classed as an ISO Class 7 according to ISO 14644-1 and the national regulation NTS 119-Minsa, Perú.
These rooms - and cleanrooms in general - use positive pressure to keep germs out of the cleanroom environment. This means that the room’s air pressure is forced to be higher than the outside air pressure. Since the environment strives to exist in equilibrium, when the door is opened, air rushes out of the room in an attempt to even the air pressure. The rush of air carries out particles and germs - and prevents air containing contaminants from entering the room.
That is why these rooms are used in the hospital to protect critically ill and immunocompromised patients! There is too much air pressure forcing itself out of the room to allow for germ-borne air to enter the room. The unit is also protected by pressurized antechambers, allowing personnel space to decontaminate before entering. Sanitizing and decontaminating is normal best practice for hospital staff, but immunocompromised patients require extra protection from what is all around them: the air.
Why is this important to these rooms in specific?
To prevent a transplant patient’s body from rejecting the new organ, they are put on immunosuppressors. Since the hospital is intentionally suppressing their immune system, this makes them a unique candidate for infections and complications.
To protect the patients further, the air in the room is recirculated through the HEPA filter. Thus, the only air present in the room is highly filtered and safe for the patient.
We often take for granted this kind of technology in modern hospitals - and our cleanrooms! Hospitals are breeding grounds for germs. In fact, according to the CDC, “One of the biggest risks for getting an antibiotic-resistant infection is staying in a healthcare facility, such as a hospital. Patients in these facilities are commonly exposed to antibiotics and receive lots of hands-on care. Additionally, most resistant germs are more common in hospitals than in the community.”
For immunocompromised transplant patients… This is a life-ending complication.
This new cleanroom unit will reduce complications related to hospital-acquired infections and the need for their treatment. They should also help decrease recovery time, allowing for more patients to receive care.
It is a great step forward for the Peruvian healthcare system and a real-life example of how cleanroom technology is literally saving lives. We often talk about cleanrooms and contamination control in a very clinical setting. Contamination equals yield loss and increased costs. We logically know that contamination can be harmful to the end user in the pharmaceutical and food industries. But we can lose sight of how technology literally saves lives.
The work we do is powerful and important. The industry standards we set revolutionize industries. The work done in our cleanrooms saves lives and paves the way for the future.
How exciting is that?! It’s one of the reasons we do what we do. And if you’re interested in being a part of it, join our email list and get the latest updates on what’s happening in the industry.