The cost of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI’s) to both the patient and the bottom line is staggering for hospitals. Patients attend a hospital to be healed, not harmed. At the same time, the daily financial cost to the system for HAI’s is estimated to be more than $15,000 per patient or $30 million annually based on the U.S. health care system as an example.
As a result, health care organizations have quadrupled their cleaning efforts to attack and kill these bacterial organisms. However, preventions have resulted in unintended consequences: the use of harsher chemicals that might kill the bacteria but add additional financial costs, including harmful impacts to staff and the environment.
In an effort to not only reduce the spread of HAI’s and also the harmful effect of chemical cleaners, Windsor Regional Hospital looked to see if a truly ‘win/win’ solution could be found. In early 2011, the hospital’s health care team, led by clinical and infection control leaders, started to test a product in non patient areas. The product at it simplest form is everyday water infused with friendly ozone.
The product was tested in independent and hospital labs with amazing results. “ It killed bacteria just as well, if not better, than current chemicals, cleaning everything better than current cleaners and leaving no smell, giving us an immediate return on investment,” explains Monica Stanton, Director of Guest Services for Windsor Regional Hospital. “As well, it could be poured down the drain after use with no harm to the environment. In fact, staff noticed it made the drain smell cleaner.”
Windsor Regional Hospital teamed up with Windsor based, Tersano Inc. through their health care distributor, Eau3 Distributing Inc., to convert the hospital’s cleaning of non-patient areas from potentially harmful, harsh and environmentally unfriendly chemicals to ozone based water cleaning. The product is an ozone treatment and environmentally acceptable, eliminating the need for handling, storing and disposing of toxic chemicals. Tersano Inc. has been recognized nationally for its Lotus Pro product by Time Magazine Best Inventions 2006, the Ontario Premier’s Catalyst Award, Innovator of the Year 2008 and Canada’s Top 10 Cleantech Companies Award.
“From day one of using the product, our front line staff noticed a dramatic change. Floors were cleaner and that harsh chemical smell and residue was eliminated,” says David Musyj, President and CEO for Windsor Regional Hospital. “We have many staff who cannot work with our current chemicals as a result of having serious allergic reactions. The same staff is now using the product with no issues whatsoever. The impact on our sick time, WSIB and staff satisfaction scores will be amazing and the annual savings to the hospital’s bottom line an achievement.”
Ozone has been used successfully as a disinfectant and oxidant in drinking water treatment applications for more than 85 years. Over the last decade, ozone has become the preferred water sterilizer for the bottled beverage and pharmaceutical industries. After recent FDA approval, agricultural and food companies have been rapidly adopting ozone for disinfecting and storing products. Ozone is over 150 per cent stronger than chlorine and is the second strongest oxidizing agent next to fluorine. Due to its very short self life, any unused ozone from the application reverts to oxygen in a short period of time, making it environmentally friendly. These qualities make ozone your disinfectant of choice at killing bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli, while providing users with purity not achievable with the use of conventional chemicals. And, ozone also inactivates viruses and controls mold.
The biggest advocates of the product at Windsor Regional Hospital are the staff and patients. Staff that could not work with harmful chemicals due to conditions like asthma are no longer calling in sick. Patients support the use of the product due to its ability to clean and kill bacteria, without harming them or the environment.
“I had to wear a mask all the time when working with chemicals previously used at the hospital,” says Sandra Ganney, Housekeeper at the Met Campus of Windsor Regional Hospital. “Now, I do not need the mask and the results speak for themselves. The floors shine after using the product and at the same time, it makes it possible for me to work elsewhere in the hospital, opening up more job opportunities.”
David Musyj further notes, “As health care leaders, we need to continue to investigate ways to protect our patients, staff and community. This involves listening to your staff and giving them the opportunity to “think out of the box” otherwise, the costs of unintended consequences can be greater than the original problem you are trying to solve in the first place.”