Healthcare Facilities

The Role of Drapes in Spreading of Infectious Diseases in Healthcare Facilities

In healthcare facilities, infectious diseases are on the rise. According to a recent study by CUPE, The incidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Canadian hospitals increased 17-fold between 1995 and 2006. Each year in Canada, more than 220,000 healthcare associated infections result in 8,500-12,000 deaths, and the rates are rising. One in nine hospital patients in Canada get a healthcare associated infection. The direct costs of hospital acquired infections in Canada are estimated to be $1 billion annually. 1

Drapes have been proven to play a significant role in the transmission of infectious diseases, since they are often touched by health care professionals and they are proven to be transmitted by hand.2 Did you know that diseases such as C. difficile have been proven to live on drapes for months? 1

A recent study at the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio found that Hospital Bedside Drapes were a significant cause of infectious disease transmission including C. difficile? Since they are often touched by both patients, visitors and staff, they have been found to accumulate and spread diseases with unnerving efficiency, over 42 percent of privacy curtains tested were contaminated. CLICK HERE to learn more about the risks presented by Bed Side Drapes.

Another new study at the University Hospital at the University of Michigan Medical Center found that of the contaminated curtains tested, the study found that nearly 14 per cent were resistant to the antibiotic vancomycin, which is used to treat bacterial infections, and almost five per cent were resistant to the penicillin-related antibiotic methicillin. The researchers said privacy curtain contamination is a “common problem” and that patients are frequently infected with the same bacteria found on their bedside curtains. 4

Bedside curtains - one of the least frequently cleaned items in a healthcare facility - are a potential reservoir of infectious pathogens3 and a hazard in the transmission of superbugs in healthcare facilities.4

With the increased focus on Infectious Disease Control, new standards have emerged for cleaning curtains and drapes in Health Care Facilities. For example, The Provincial Infectious Disease Advisory Committee's Best Practices Document (PDF) for the Management of C.Difficile, requires at discharge, for any room used by the patient: "all privacy, shower and window curtains must be taken down and sent for laundering."5

When sanitizing patient rooms, every surface is cleaned meticulously, linens are replaced, floors are thoroughly cleaned. But have you thought about the drapes? Even for non-infectious patient rooms, frequent cleaning of bed-side privacy drapes, and annual cleaning of window drapes is now included in the Provincial Infectious Disease Advisory Council (PIDAC) standards Best Practices for Environmental Cleaning (PDF).

The solution as concluded by the Cleveland Clinic Study:

"Strategies to reduce the potential for transmission of pathogens from curtains might include improved or more frequent cleaning or use of antimicrobial-impregnated curtains."

According to the University of Michigan study: “To completely eliminate the risk, after every patient came and left the hospital, you would have to take down the curtain, you’d have to remove all of those 12 or 13 islets – get somebody up on a ladder – and have a backup curtain waiting, which is beautifully cleaned, that someone can then hang up, ”infectious disease specialist Dr. Neil Rau said. On-Site Drapery Cleaners offers this exact service.

Using heat, bleach and other chemical based sanitization methods currently used by most laundries (in house or out-sourced services) will if administered correctly, provide effective sanitation of drapes.

Traditional laundries use the same cleaning methods on bedsheets and towels as they do on drapes. The materials used in draperies are not designed to be washed using these high temperatures, harsh chemicals and hot presses. Washing drapes either in regular hospital laundry or with traditional dry cleaning leads to rapid breakdown of the fabric fibers, substantially shortening the lifespan of your drapes. Liners, hems, hooks, rollers and mesh begin to fall apart under the harsh conditions and drapes need to be replaced much sooner than if they were properly handled.

It's not just about infectious disease control. It's also about Cost Control

Did you know that your draperies act as a filter absorbing airborne dust, pollutants, chemicals, and allergens? Dirty drapes contribute to poor indoor air quality which can adversely affect the health of your residents and staff who may be allergic or sensitive to dust.

Airborne pollutants combine with humidity and oxygen to form acid that creates "dry rot" which, left unchecked, destroys the fabric. Protect your investment by establishing a regular cleaning schedule and you can substantially prolong the life of your drapes and protect your investment. Drapes are expensive to replace.

Important Information about the Fire Code

For Health Care Facilities, the Fire Code requires that all draperies be flame proofed, and washing drapes in regular laundry or dry cleaning will remove flame retardant (if not inherently treated). Our unique True Dry Cleaning Process is the only way to safely clean Draperies without removing flame proof properties.

About Us

On-Site Drapery Cleaners has been providing commercial and institutional drapery cleaning & fireproofing since 1978. We are specialists in cleaning and maintaining your Bed Side Curtains and Window Drapes.

You Need Our Drapery Maintenance Program.

Our customers are regarded as leaders in infectious disease control, and in fact, some even offer troubleshooting teams to other hospitals, helping them implement the same best practices they have developed. We are their Best Practice when it comes to Drapery Cleaning. We have worked closely with the Environmental Services and Infectious Disease Control groups of our customers in developing and implementing Drapery Maintenance Programs with them. Our services are deeply integrated into the operations of our customers, and we work well as a team. Have a look for yourself, our Testimonials speak for themselves.

We pick up, clean, sanitize and return Bed Side Curtains and Window Drapes, typically SAME DAY. We also will take care of any needed repairs such as mesh replacement, rips and tears, missing hooks/runners.

Using our inventory management and automated scheduling software, our Drapery Maintenance Program eliminates the need for on-site inventory management by hospital staff. By analysing usage patterns combined with our just-in-time pick-up and delivery, we ensure your facility never has to wait for clean drapes.

Need spare drapes? Let us develop a Drapery Maintenance Program which includes new drape inventory for your facility. We buy, administer, clean, maintain your drapery inventory for you just like uniform rentals.

Service Advantages:

  • Pick Up or Professional Removal and Re-hanging
  • Free minor repairs and hook replacement
  • Environmentally Friendly Process
  • Friendly Uniformed Staff
  • Online Ordering
  • Same Day Service

What's Next? CLICK HERE to have our friendly staff come and visit you and prepare a Drapery Maintenance Program customized for your healthcare facility.

1 Health care associated infections: a backgrounder. CUPE March 2, 2009.

2Contamination of Hospital Curtains With Healthcare-Associated Pathogens Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology November 2008, vol. 29, no. 11 Floyd Trillis, III, BS; Elizabeth C. Eckstein, RN; Rachel Budavich, BS; Michael J. Pultz; Curtis J. Donskey, MD

3 Das, I., Lambert, P., Hill, D., Noy, M., Bion, J., and Elliott, T. (2002). “Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter and role of curtains in an outbreak in intensive care units.” Journal of Hospital Infection Vol. 50(2):110-4.

4 White, L.F., Dancer, S.J., Robertson, C. (2007 August). “A microbiological evaluation of hospital cleaning methods.” International Journal of Environmental Health Research Vol. 17(4):285-295.

5 Best Practices for Environmental Cleaning for Prevention and Control of Infections Provincial Disease Advisory Committee, December 8, 2009.

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