Last month we looked to Tim Richards’ article, “The Effect of COVID-19 On Medical Gas Systems Today,” to explore the negative effects of Covid-19 on Oxygen Delivery Systems, along with some short-term remedies. This month, we will continue with Mr. Richards’ suggestions for longer-term actions.
Analysis of Piping Distribution Networks
In anticipation of the need for surge capacity, hospitals should conduct an analysis of their entire piping system with an eye to improving their facility, as well as identifying areas that could accommodate patients on ventilators. This preparation will facility a smooth transition should additional areas be needed for patient overflow.
Verification of New or Temporary Installations
Should a facility add either permanent or temporary additional patient care spaces, it’s important to remember that verification is needed for all medical gas installations.
NFPA 99-2018, 188.8.131.52 requires that inspection and testing be performed on all new piped gas systems, additions, renovations, temporary installations, and repaired systems. The proper installation and testing of these systems are paramount to delivering safe patient care.
Ongoing Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance
To control the spread of COVID-19, facilities are struggling with the decision to limit the number of people walking through the doors of the hospital. This includes vendors providing ongoing inspection, testing, and maintenance services. However, since medical gas technicians are considered essential workers, most facilities continue to allow them to conduct regularly scheduled inspections.
If your facility would prefer to postpone inspections, be aware you can apply for an 1135 Waiver from CMS. However, TJC and ASHE recommend that inspections are resumed within 60 days of the state of emergency is lifted.
The world of health care has changed dramatically. However, it’s crucial during this time for facility administrators to stay focused on the needs of patients by evaluating existing medical gas systems, innovating when needed, and preparing to meet the challenges ahead.
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