HVAC’s role in health care reform

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It seems that change is coming to the health care system in one form or another. Helping them keep their expenses down will be more crucial than ever. There also is a great deal of awareness of infection control, another area where mechanical systems play key roles.

According to Robert Scheir, Ph.D., president and chairman, Steril-Aire Inc., “It is well established that a properly designed, equipped, and maintained HVAC system will use less energy and be less costly to maintain.”

The relationship between HVAC and infection control is not as widely understood by the public, he said, “but there is growing evidence of a strong connection between the two.”

In a recent report from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air- Conditioning Engineers, the ASHRAE Airborne Infectious Diseases Position Document states that “airborne transmission of diseases through HVAC systems is actually much more prevalent than previously thought, and that proper control is critical,” said Scheir. “The importance of this finding cannot be understated. Hospital-acquired infection (HAI) results in 90,000 deaths per year at a price tag of $4.5 billion to hospitals.”

According to Laura Rygielski, director of health care, Trane Commercial Systems, this division “focuses on the impact that the physical environment has on patient outcomes, patient and staff satisfaction, and the financial performance of the organization. By ensuring that the physical environment of care has a positive impact on these issues, the cost of health care should be reduced through lower infection rates, higher staff retention, higher patient satisfaction, energy savings, etc.”

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