Undetected water leaks, pipe breaks, roof leaks, clogged drains and inadequate maintenance can lead to mold-related issues. The prevalence of uncontrolled water and elevated humidity levels can create the perfect environment for mold growth in hospital environments. More importantly, the location, type and quantity of mold that develops can be serious and sometimes deadly.
The proactive and immediate response to uncontrolled water mold-related issues can be extremely helpful in reducing a facility’s overall risk. The first step toward addressing these issues is the development of a comprehensive water response plan or mold-abatement plan. This plan should answer the following questions when a water leak or water infiltration event is discovered:
- Are key leadership personnel identified for notification when a water or mold event is first discovered?
- Does the plan address the relocation of patients and equipment? Does it include the elements needed for business continuity?
- Are the response procedures for all personnel clear, concise and correct? These procedures apply to leadership as well as staff involved in remediation and cleanup activities.
- What happens if critical medical equipment and electronics are damaged?
- Where are supplies (e.g., dehumidification, HEPA and water extraction equipment) and are they accessible?
- Is staff properly trained on response and cleanup procedures, if applicable? The mitigation or corrective steps should be dependent on the type of water (i.e., clean, gray or black) and the location of the water or mold event. For example: The response steps for a sewage leak outside of a sterile equipment storage room will be significantly different from a clean water leak inside a janitorial closet.
- Are the facility’s safety and health representative actively participating in the development of the plan. Are infection prevention personnel involved? Some of the decisions to be made may be outside the scope or expertise of the facility manager.
- What remediation steps can be performed in-house versus what can contracted to an outside vendor?
- Establish working relations with third parties (e.g., industrial hygiene services and abatement service providers). Ensure all proper and necessary memorandums of understanding are in place.
There are several resources available to develop a solid plan or program. The American Society for Health Care Engineering online community is a great place to interact with peers and share best practices and information on issues like mold and water infiltration. Organizations such as the American Industrial Hygiene Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published documents and best practices to address mold cleanup and water infiltration events.
This sample plan can help facility managers begin putting their plan together.