In recent years, increasing attention has been drawn to the standards of cleanliness and hygiene in North American hospitals and healthcare facilities, driven by evidence confirming that hospital and healthcare environments can become contaminated with microorganisms responsible for Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAI).
The most concerning evidence that has emerged was from this comprehensive healthcare facility study conducted by some of the most prevalent health research organisations in North America, including:
- The Health Research & Educational Trust of the American Hospital Association
- The American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE)
- The American Hospital Association
- The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology and
- The Society of Hospital Medicine.
The study found that environmental surfaces in rooms with patients infected with MRSA are contaminated up to 27% of the time. Even more startlingly, the same study found that rooms with patients infected by VRE are contaminated in between 60-70% of cases.
The transmission of these microorganisms from the contaminated surfaces to patients can occur from both direct contact with the surface or indirect contact from touching hands.
Embracing New Technologies
Hospitals and healthcare facilities in North America have been steadily incorporating new technology into their design plans to manage the risks of HCAIs and ensure compliance with increasingly stringent hygiene regulations.
The most popular amongst these new advances is the incorporation of switchable glass technology. In fact, the study referenced above specifically outlines a best-practice case study where switchable smart glass was used as an effective solution for resolving the need to manage hygiene yet still ensure privacy in a U.S. healthcare facility.
The Role of Smart Glass in Enhancing Hygiene
Switchable smart glass allows patients and nursing staff to manage the privacy and dignity of occupants using minimal contact, requiring just the flick of a switch, a sensor or remote control.
The glass transforms from clear to opaque in 0.01 seconds, allowing for complete privacy for the patient without the risk of contamination. The glass is easily cleaned and exceeds visibility, privacy and hygiene requirements for healthcare facilities.
Privacy smart glass is used with increasing frequency as a replacement for unhygienic privacy curtains in the Intensive Care Units and Emergency Rooms of hospitals and healthcare facilities where the need to minimise contact with infection is particularly imperative.
The switchable glass technology can be incorporated with toughened security glass panels, so many modern hospitals are using switchable, impact resistant privacy glass panels in emergency room doors to add an extra level of security in their facilities.
Switchable smart glass enhances dignity of often very ill patients, improves patient outcomes and increases the productivity of nursing staff and clinicians.
Examples of Switchable Smart Glass in North American Healthcare Facilities
As one of the world’s leading switchable smart glass manufacturers, our solutions have helped to modernise a long list of healthcare facilities around the globe and help them to address key hygiene and privacy needs.
To help you learn more about the benefits of smart glass for medical environments, we’ve outlined a brief snapshot of just some of the healthcare facility projects in North America where Smartglass International have supplied innovative smart glass solutions.
Milton Hospital, Ontario, Canada
Milton District Hospital is a community hospital built on 40 acres of land in Milton, Ontario, Canada. The hospital is operated by Halton Healthcare Services. Smartglass International had the pleasure of suppling privacy glass for the doors throughout their Intensive Care Unit and bullet-resistant switchable glass panels in all emergency room areas.
Encompass Health, Alabama, USA
Formerly HealthSouth, Encompass Health is a major provider of healthcare services in the Southern United States. They offer both facility-based and home-based post-acute services in 36 states and Puerto Rico through its network of inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, home health agencies, and hospice agencies. Smartglass International was engaged to provide switchable privacy glass panels to modernise and maximise performance in one of their major facilities in Birmingham, Alabama in 2017.
Great Plains Health, Nebraska, USA
Great Plains Health in North Platte, Nebraska, is a non-profit, fully accredited, 116-bed regional referral center serving west Nebraska, northern Kansas and northern Colorado. Smartglass International were initially engaged to provide switchable privacy smart glass for a mock-up room for the new ICU development. This room has now been approved and full roll-out manufacturing is due to begin in the coming months.
North Shore University Hospital, New York, USA
North Shore University Hospital is one of the cornerstones of Northwell Health. Located in Manhasset, New York, it is also an academic campus for Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, the New York University School of Medicine and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
The facility is currently undergoing major refurbishment which will include the provision of new ICU facilities. Smartglass International will provide innovative switchable privacy glass solutions for all ICU suites in the new facility.
Smart Glass Enhancing Hygiene in Healthcare Facilities
As healthcare facilities in North America seek new ways to maximise patient care, while ensuring increasingly stringent regulatory compliance and meeting design needs, smart glass is emerging as one of the most dominant technologies to help them to achieve their goals.