Reducing The Transmission of COVID-19 at University Hospital of Mirebalais

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Haiti – a country already facing widespread poverty, political instability, weak infrastructure and extreme vulnerability to natural disasters – was ill-equipped to deal with the outbreak of yet another deadly disease. A deadly cholera epidemic following the 2010 earthquake led to the death of nearly 10,000 people. Haiti started 2020 by finally having reached a milestone of one full year free from any new cases of the deadly waterborne disease, just as COVID-19 was starting to spread globally.

With 35 percent of Haitians lacking basic drinking water services and two-thirds with limited or no sanitation services, CMF is working with partners to strengthen the health system’s ability to adapt and respond to COVID-19.

We are pleased to announce our partnership with Partners In Health Canada (PIHC) at the University Hospital of Mirebalais. CMF and PIHC will be supporting the hospital through the construction of up to 15 permanent handwashing stations and 15 toilets in areas where COVID-19 patients are treated in order to reduce the transmission of the virus. Improved sanitation facilities in these areas will create a healthier hospital environment and reduced risk of COVID-19 transmission for both staff and patients.

University Hospital of Mirebalais (HUM) in the Central Plateau, Haiti is one of the main COVID-19 treatment centers and referral hospitals in the country and is currently the largest teaching hospital in Haiti.

Research shows that well-positioned, easily accessible hand washing stations increase good hand hygiene practices and reduce healthcare-acquired infections (HAI). In addition, by increasing the number of toilets for patients and staff in COVID-19 areas of the hospital, there will be less wait time for individuals in the COVID-19 units. The improvements will also ensure that handwashing stations and toilets are still available when facilities are being cleaned and disinfected.

During this pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Working together as a global community, we can stop the spread of COVID-19.

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Helping prevent infection of frontline healthcare workers

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With the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped our world, the Canadian Medical Foundation’s priority focus is the prevention of infectious diseases through projects that address gaps in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) efforts.

A June 1, 2020, Lancet meta-analysis of 13 studies showed that wearing eye protection, like face shields, resulted in a 78% reduction in infection with COVID-19, SARS or MERS.  However, due to the global shortage of disposable face shields, many sub-standard face shield products are flooding the market, single-use face shields are being re-used off label, and face shields are not being properly decontaminated before re-use. This poses a health and safety risk to healthcare workers.

A sustainable solution is urgently needed.

The CDC’s September 15, 2020 guidance on reprocessing disposable face shields states to “carefully avoid the foam cushion and elastic strap as they may not be tolerant to disinfectants.” This means that the skin contacting foam cushion and elastic strap are not typically decontaminated before reuse.

Reusable face shields need to be fully decontaminated before reuse to ensure that the risk of infection is minimized, with a decontamination protocol that includes both cleaning and disinfection. No decontamination kits to properly clean and disinfect reusable face shields are currently marketed in Canada. The currently available decontamination protocols for reusable face shields often fail to include the cleaning step and usually recommend using toxic or flammable chemical disinfection agents.

Before a reusable face shield can be brought to market, the process for cleaning and disinfection must go through a complete and expensive validation process to prove that it is effective.  However, due to recent shortages, Health Canada has allowed – on a temporary basis – face shields to be exempt from validation testing.

Dr. Julielynn Wong is board-certified in aerospace medicine, occupational medicine, public health and general preventive medicine, and is the founder of 3D4MD, a social enterprise whose mission is to provide regulatory-compliant, 3D printable healthcare supplies to remote communities.

3D4MD’s analysis has shown that none of the face shields marketed in Canada as “100% reusable” have undergone the necessary and costly quality standards testing by independent, accredited laboratories to validate that these devices can be properly cleaned, disinfected, and safely reused.

The 3D4MD 100% Reusable Face Shield and Decontamination Kit has been designed to prevent infection of frontline healthcare workers in community and institutional settings. The Decontamination Kit for the 3D4MD 100% Reusable Face Shield uses an environmentally safe, non-toxic, rapid action (1 minute), single-agent cleaner and COVID-19 disinfectant authorized by Health Canada.

The Canadian Medical Foundation has committed to support Dr. Wong in obtaining regulatory standards certification testing by an accredited, independent laboratory to demonstrate that the 3D4MD 100% Reusable Face Shield can be properly cleaned and disinfected with the 3D4MD Face Shield Decontamination Kit in accordance with Health Canada regulatory standards.

The proper use of face shields is an overlooked and neglected topic in COVID-19 prevention. Without safe, reusable personal protective equipment, frontline healthcare workers will be forced to continue to reuse sub-standard, untested face shields made of cheap, low-grade plastic with a limited lifespan. This significantly increases their infection risk for COVID-19, exposes staff to toxic chemical disinfectants, utilizes more healthcare resources, raises healthcare delivery costs, and increases the amount of medical waste in landfills and oceans.

Working together, supporting each other, we can stop the spread of COVID-19.

 

DONATE To Help Stop The Spread of Infectious Diseases!