Door automation contributes to infection control progress

As we head into flu season and winter closes in, healthcare facility managers brace themselves for their busiest time of the year. With patient numbers increasing year on year, the demands placed on hospitals by our ageing population has never been more acutely felt.

Infection control in Hospitals and GP Surgeries remains a priority. Reducing the spread of contaminants requires a careful balance between accessibility for the seemingly ever-increasing number of patients, and identification of those systems which best mitigate the spread of virulent and bacterial particles. Experts from ASSA ABLOY Entrance Systems, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of automated door solutions, assert that carefully specified external and internal entrances can help enormously with the battle to prevent the spread of infection within primary care facilities.

Reduce Touchpoints
How doors are triggered to activate is a key factor in the design of infection control systems. Automatic opening helps reducing physical touchpoints. In external entrances UK facilities utilise revolving, sliding and swinging pedestrian door systems, so there is no universal solution. Retrofitting automatic operators to pre-existing manual entrances is increasingly cost-effective for all door types.

An external entrance should be able to handle the highest peak footfall spikes – factoring in the types of trolleys and wheelchairs used on the wards and departments within – and limit the instances of hand to surface contact.

Mapping the movement of patients – at the main entrances and inside a surgery or hospital – should be priority to ensure the flow of footfall at peak and quiet times can be assessed before specification of any door system.

In internal openings – ie. where sliding or swing doors are used in corridors to prevent draught tunnels forming, or where a ward door should remain sealed when possible – the variety of options widens. Hinchingbrooke Hospital successfully incorporated pedals (foot activators) during the redevelopment of six wards, in order to reduce the transfer of bacteria at hand-to-surface touch points. Radars, induction loops and card only access may also be an option for areas with specific requirements, negating the need for doors to be manually pushed or pulled open.

EN:16005 – Mobility Impaired Access
Access for the mobility impaired is a core consideration for all healthcare facilities. New entrances should be designed meet EN:16005, with the needs of less mobile passengers met fully. Where manual door systems are a legacy feature, retrospective automation is a real option in almost every case. Retrofitting can often bring facilities in line with the most up-to-date standards and modular modernisation kits can boost performance and capacity. With the variety of activation devices and access control options being so diverse, consultation with a specialist is encouraged to ensure feasibility.

Privacy and Dignity
Millennial healthcare facilities place great emphasis on maintaining the privacy and dignity of patients at all times. The introduction of automation to doors doesn’t necessarily require a trade-off in this area. Trials have been undertaken to allow patients more control over the functionality of ward doors, with bed-side control panels allowing individuals to set the status of a door. Doctors and nurses with specific authorisation can override these systems, but initial findings appear favourable in certain conditions.

Effective automation creates highly functional entrances, which are ideally suited to the needs of modern healthcare facilities.

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