Monday, February 27, 2012

Water Damage in Hospitals by Leo Nov

Most hospitals would think that their facilities are maintained well until a small leak turns into a torrential flow of water, causing significant damage. Unfortunately, sudden water intrusion in a hospital could lead to several unique dangers and consequences.

Physically, water can damage the structures of the hospital and may even require reconstruction. There is also a risk of damage to expensive medical equipment, hospital furniture, and paper documents. There is also the possibility of system failure related to technology, electrical power or communication systems.

When any system of the hospital is affected, there will certainly be a disruption to services and operations, affecting both patients and healthcare practitioners. As a result of water damage, patients may not be able to get the service or medical attention they need when they're supposed to or the quality of which would be greatly affected.

In terms of health and safety issues, the risks of contamination are obviously high in hospitals because of the presence of contaminated substances inside the building such as medical wastes that although properly disposed of can still mix with water that has leaked into the building. In addition, hospitals require the highest level of sanitation so contaminated water leaks will pose a serious health threat.

Preparedness and Prevention

In most cases, the hospital administration can't predict when a water emergency will happen or what impact it may leave behind. However, hospital administration and facilities management can take steps to make sure the hospital can recover quickly should the unexpected happens.

Being well prepared is the key to successful crisis management. Preparedness begins with education. By understanding and analyzing water damage sources and hazards and identifying the ones present in their respective institutions, hospital administrations can develop the appropriate preparedness program.

There are so many things that need to be considered when preparing for a water emergency. For one thing, the hospital should have a contingency plan that covers extensive power outage and failure of technology and normal communication channels due to water damage.

Usually, the best solutions during emergencies are the simplest ones such as the use of handheld radios to keep communication lines open or the use of simple checklists to guide staff about emergency procedures. Certainly, preparedness and prevention plans will require some investments both in terms of money and time. While some investments may be costly, they will prove to be invaluable in the long run.

Still, planning and huge investments will largely be ineffective if the hospital staff is not aware of emergency procedures. Create a list of phone numbers they should call to report a water incident. Provide the staff a map of where water shut-off valves are located. As a preventive measure, educate staff about possible sources of water damage so they can help detect problems early.

Recovering from Water Damage

The speed with which the hospital gains full recovery is directly related to how soon the water damage was reported and addressed. This is why it is important that the hospital's facilities management is notified immediately of any water intrusion in the building so timely response is provided.

The ideal response time to water damage is up to 48 hours from exposure. If saturated materials are cleaned and dried within this grace period, then mold growth will be prevented. Since time is a critical element in any type of water damage, the immediate availability of professional restoration services will be of great help.

If the hospital has prepared ahead with a pre-incident job order, the partner contractor should be called in right away to initiate restoration. Otherwise, look for a reliable water damage restoration specialist offering emergency services. With immediate response, not only will mold damage be prevented but most wet items can be salvaged, too. Although, porous materials that became wet would have to be thrown out.

With the services of an experienced and competent contractor, wet structures will be dried thoroughly using professional methods. Areas that were exposed to contaminated water would also be cleaned and sanitized before being dried. A representative from the hospital's infection control unit should monitor the entire restoration work. After the job, the contractor should present proper documentation of the affected area's successful restoration.