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Study Looks at Healthcare Construction Training

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

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Researchers out of Washington State University and Clemson University have found that insufficient training for construction workers in hospital settings could be contributing to disease outbreaks.

This research, led by Tommy Tafazzoli, assistant professor in the School of Design and Construction, focused on fungal disease outbreaks and the findings were recently published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

The Studies

According to WSU, in the U.S. there have been nearly 50 fungal outbreaks associated with construction between 1980 and 2015, resulting in infections and more than 120 patient deaths. Meanwhile, though, another survey found that 49% of all health care expenditures in 2017 went to facility renovation to meet rising demand for inpatient care.

Tafazzoli noted that most of the time when the project is a “renovation” for a health care facility, that means that the unit is active and patients are there while the renovation is taking place.

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Researchers out of Washington State University and Clemson University have found that insufficient training for construction workers in hospital settings could be contributing to disease outbreaks.


As part of the study, Tafazzoli surveyed 129 people working in 15 leading healthcare construction contractors in the U.S. to determine their level of dust contamination training. 

The researchers found a lack of standardized training, that the trainings were mostly tailored for upper management and that contractor and sub-contractor construction crews received the least amount of training.  Because the survey only queried leading construction contractors, the lack of training may be worse than their survey indicates, he added.

The survey also evaluated the quality of training that crews receive, including what safety precautions are different depending on what area of a healthcare facility is having work done—a cardiac unit versus a courtyard, for example.

Tafazzoli suggested uniform regulations for healthcare construction specifically, as well as frequent training for all worker levels in a company.

The researchers are now reportedly developing training guidelines.

Hospital Construction

While the research out of WSU and Clemson primarily focused on fungal diseases, the findings come out at a time of increased hospital construction in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, multiple cities announced completions of hospitals and healthcare facilities, including a temporary hospital at the Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, New Jersey, as well as two facilities in Brooklyn and Queens in New York City.

Holt Construction recently announced that it, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bergen County and FEMA, completed Jersey’s temporary hospital in just 14 days.

“The two fully-equipped tents, the first of its kind for Army Corps temporary facility construction standards, will serve as a treatment facility for acute, non-COVID related patients due to the influx of COVID-positive patients in the main building,” the company said.

Each tent structure includes 50 inpatient beds, an admissions bay, nurse stations, six bathrooms equipped with showers, hospital staff support areas, a nurse call system in each patient room, medical gas storage, medicine storage and soiled holding.

Meanwhile, in New York, Los Angeles-based construction company Aecom has recently completed the construction of two temporary hospitals in Queens and Brooklyn.

Those hospitals include a 750-bed facility at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and a 450-bed facility at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which began taking patients on April 10.

And last month, a temporary hospital built inside the Miami Beach Convention Center reportedly reached completion early—commencing work on April 20—just days before its target opening.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; COVID-19; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Health & Safety; Health and safety; Health Care/Hospitals; Latin America; North America; Research; Safety; Worker training; Z-Continents

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