Parker campuses implement infection control technology

PHOTO COURTESY OF PARKER HEALTH GROUP

Ultraviolet disinfecting equipment, temperature scanning kiosks, hand hygiene devices and other infection control technologies have been implemented at Parker Health Group, Inc.’s five campuses specializing in long-term care and aging services in response to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.

Leaders at Parker locations in Highland Park, Piscataway, New Brunswick, Somerset and Monroe Township are determined to be a formidable front line against the spread of coronavirus and other infectious diseases, according to information provided by Parker. New technologies and protocols are being implemented to reduce the spread of infection and the threat of cross-contamination while continually promoting safety.

“We are anticipating the effects of this pandemic will be a renewed focus on limiting the spread of germs and viruses, on disinfecting, on creating environments free of touch points and more,” Carolyn Bachonski, Parker’s chief clinical officer, said in the statement.

Judy Collett-Miller, Parker’s director of Technology Innovation, added, “The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated our work at Parker to keep our campuses safe and secure for our residents, staff, families and visitors.”

These initiatives are being put into place following the first and second vaccinations of all Parker residents over a six-day period in January and then in February. The focus now is implementing the latest technologies on the market to safeguard residents for generations to come, according to the statement.

The use of ultraviolet light technology will be one tool in a multi-pronged approach. Various UV technologies allow workers to effectively disinfect most anything in a resident’s suite, according to the statement.

Parker is using a device known as a “UV Cube” to clean computers, cell phones and other items. In as little as 90 seconds, items emerge from the cube both bacteria- and virus-free after being bathed in UV light.

“The process is completely safe for these items,” James Dellapa, chief information officer at Parker, said in the statement. “Ultraviolet technology has been widely used to effectively sterilize and sanitize and will be utilized throughout all homes.”

Parker also intends to secure a mobile device that can disinfect, say, a bedroom or a bathroom in a matter of three to five minutes, according to the statement. It floods each room with UV light. Dellapa said technology such as UV lights that sterilize exam and operating rooms is growing in use at top hospitals.

“It’s much more effective than some of the traditional misting protocols or other tools that are used today,” Dellapa said in the statement. “That is why it will be coming to Parker.”

Another technology in use monitors Parker care members’ hand hygiene as they go about their rounds, taking care of elders.

Care partners affix a small badge to their clothing at the beginning of their shifts. The badge works in concert with beacons throughout the residences, and will issue a beep to remind the staff member when it’s an appropriate time to wash hands, according to the statement.

Parker is using screening kiosks on each of its campuses that record employee, and soon to be visitors’ or vendors’, temperatures and manually ask them to respond to a brief COVID-19 questionnaire.

“It uses facial-recognition and no-touch technologies,” Dellapa said in the statement. “It will take your temperature and will prompt you to answer a questionnaire. You respond by waving your right hand or your left hand to indicate yes or no.”

The unit will provide an immediate notification, determining if a visitor is permitted access.

“The best way to keep our residents and staff safe is to mitigate the spread of infections within our homes,” Collett-Miller said in the statement, “and the kiosks and the other technologies are working together to do that. While put in place to address the current challenges these technologies have an enormous long-term value in a post-pandemic world.”