By Joanne Kaldy
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, most everything is running low. This includes cleaning supplies and enough workers with the time and training to disinfect the many surfaces and equipment where the virus resides—often for days. This can seriously threaten efforts to contain the coronavirus and prevent its spread to residents and staff alike. In seeking creative and effective solutions, many are looking at lighting.
Because ultraviolet C (UVC) light has proven effective at neutralizing previous strains of coronavirus, there has been great interest in using it as an additional method of cleaning spaces and equipment potentially infected with the novel coronavirus.
Senior Living Foresight partner Lumenant, a company specializing in lighting, energy, and technology solutions for senior living communities, is on top of this and has procured hundreds of UVC lamps to outfit mobile carts that can be used to easily move the lights around a senior living building. The company can get these carts to most U.S. clients east of the Mississippi within 24-48 hours; and the setup and training times, as well as the costs, are minimal.
ABCs of UVC
“UVC lighting has been proven effective on previous coronaviruses, and science and experience suggest it will work on this one as well,” says Jack Sterne, Esq., a principal at Lumenant. “The most straightforward application is on hard surfaces. This technology has been used in hospital rooms for years to sterilize medical instruments and other items.”
In addition to possible decontamination of rooms and common areas, these light carts can potentially be used to disinfect personal protective equipment (PPE) and personal items such as walkie talkies, cell phones, and pens that people regularly use and that can possibly spread infection.
UVC lights are being used in the U.S. and around the world to help combat COVID-19 spread. For instance, the hospital at the University of Nebraska is using UVC light to sterilize masks for reuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released guidance on the use of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) for disinfecting respirators.
Elsewhere, UVC lights are being used in banks and other institutions in China. Shanghai is using UVC on public transportation (such as trains) to prevent coronavirus spread.
The Right Light with the Right Partner
Not all lighting is created equal. As the CDC observes, “Not all UV lamps provide the same intensity, thus treatment times would have to be adjusted accordingly. Moreover, UVGI is unlikely to kill all the viruses and bacteria on an FFR [filtering facepiece respirator] due to shadow effects produced by the multiple layers of the FFR’s construction.”
It is essential to have experts such as the team at Lumenant to provide that level of guidance and training to ensure both safety and effectiveness. They will make sure you know how to use the carts and how much time is needed to disinfect various surfaces and equipment, and they will provide and train your teams on the correct use of protective gear.
“With manual cleaning methods, it is very easy to miss areas. This happens in the best of situations and is especially true when staff are overburdened and stretched thin fighting a pandemic. There is comfort in having accurate, efficient technology to do the job,” says Sterne. However, he stresses, “This doesn’t mean that you should eliminate manual cleaning and other efforts to kill the virus and prevent spread. The UVC carts aren’t a substitute but an additional weapon in your arsenal.”
You want to do everything in your power to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your community and to protect residents and staff alike. This is a low-cost solution that can give you and your teams added support for and confidence about your ability to prevent the spread of this potentially deadly virus.