At the end of last year, the Hope Specialist Service took delivery of 15 air purifier units, after the Hope Street Trust Board of Trustees voted unanimously to spend just over £4700 on them. The units will be sited in all of our patient areas at the Val Waterhouse Centre and also used out in community settings, such as Immingham Civic Centre and Scartho Community Hub where Sylvia has been running her Tai Chi and Chair-based Exercise classes.
When we returned to the Val Waterhouse Centre in September, we had to look at options as our air management system was not fit for use in this new COVID world because it recirculates the air. We met with the CPG Estates team and contractors to discuss options, such as converting the current system and extending it, but the contractor decided that they couldn’t do the job.
Whilst having the windows wide open for ventilation is recommended, it’s not really practical or healthy in the depths of Winter and without another option we were facing the reality of having to have lengthy gaps between groups to allow for air exchange. Thankfully, the wonderful Lucy from Estates looked at other options and obtained quotes for both air sterilisation and air purifying units, which have the benefit of being either portable or relatively easy to re-site, rather than being wired into the infrastructure of the building.
Pam cast her expert eye over both options and whilst the air sterilisers are extremely effective at killing off all sorts of viruses in the air, they do so using Ozone. Trials in schools with air sterilisers had to be suspended because the levels of Ozone were making people ill, so Pam didn’t think this was a good option, especially for our respiratory patients.
The air purifier units work differently though, with a hospital grade 13 HEPA filter and UV lamp, so they will be much safer for our patients, whilst still effectively neutralising airborne viruses, including COVID. By investing in these units, we will make it both safer and easier to run our activities, whether that is in the time of COVID, or beyond, as better air quality should reduce the risk from other viruses, as well as making the environment better for people with allergies. The units should also enable us to increase patient numbers whilst still operating safely.
Research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year found that use of HEPA air cleaners alone in indoor areas reduced aerosol exposure by 65%, whilst use of masks alone reduced exposure by 72%. However a combination of masks and HEPA air cleaners reduced exposure by up to 90%.
We would like to thank the amazing Lucy Welbourne and Nikki Cook from the CPG Estates team for all their help and a big thank you to anyone who has contributed to the Hope Street Trust over the years, because those contributions, both large and small, mean the Trust is able to step forward and make a difference at times like this when it is really needed.