New ideas to enhance visitor safety in waiting rooms.

The removal of COVID-19 restrictions in the spring of this year brought with it some interesting reactions. For many people, it was a sign that life could start to return to normal, but for others, this created mixed feelings.

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Posted: Wednesday, 10 August 2022

After two years of following measures to keep safe, being out again in public and mixing in larger crowds was a worrying prospect.

In doctors’ surgeries, dentists waiting rooms and other clinical settings where members of the public visit, the removal of COVID-19 regulations has presented practice managers with a dilemma.

Whilst it is great to be able to welcome back visitors into buildings, there are now additional considerations on how this can be done in a way that not only takes into account the regular health and safety precautions but also how to allay the fears of those members of the public that may still be feeling more vulnerable than usual.

Thinking through how many visitors should be in the waiting area at any given time, the placement of furniture to allow additional space and considering the flow of people through a building is a good start. Considering if touch screen check-in systems are still safe and if there is the continued need to partition reception staff are other areas to work on.

The temptation to revert back to normal operating procedures may be strong, especially if the above options are difficult to cater for, but there are other solutions that can be put in place to enhance safety and help visitors who may remain concerned about mixing in crowded areas.

COVID-19 is an airborne transmitted virus so looking at the air quality in the building is a valid consideration. Putting in place an air purification system that can take in air, remove harmful microorganisms such as viruses, and send it back out into the room provides both an extra level of safety as well as reassurance to visitors.

There are many air purification systems to choose from, including enhanced air conditioning units, separate wall or ceiling systems or smaller portable units. Which one is right depends on the size and shape of the room that needs to be treated, as well as the budget.

Ultraviolet (UV) light-based systems provide some of the most flexible options. UV light and its usefulness in rendering viruses inactive is a well-known solution to disinfection and purification needs. Short-wavelength ultraviolet (UV-C) light inactivates microorganisms by disrupting their DNA, leaving them unable to perform vital cellular functions such as reproduction. At the 254nm wavelength, UV light can penetrate the cell wall of a microorganism, permanently altering the DNA structure within seconds and leaving no chemical by-products as a result. 

If you’d like to understand more about how UV light works, its benefits and how effective it can be on the COVID-19 virus, take a look at our blog written in 2020 as the pandemic started.

Since that blog was written, further studies have confirmed the effectiveness of UV light on the COVID-19 virus. Read our blog on the latest research here.

Whilst not in a waiting room, Dürr Dental faced a similar dilemma in wanting to create a safe working environment for their office-based staff. The company had to ensure office staffing levels remained high throughout the pandemic to continue with critical NHS supply contracts. To help do this they added portable UVETTA air purification systems into the office space and as a result reported no office-based outbreaks of COVID-19, as well as a noticeable drop in cold and flu symptoms. Read the Success Story here.

So, as waiting rooms start to fill up again, and practice managers search for ways in which to enhance visitor safety, it is good to note that additional measures are available that can help both staff and visitors. As well as providing vital reassurance to members of the public that attending an appointment in a busy waiting room is not an added risk they need to avoid.   

To find out more about our UVETTA range of air purification systems click here or if you would like to talk to one of our experts on how this could be a solution for you Contact Us for a chat.