Legionella, best design practices the hot topics at Watts’ Healthcare Symposium
Watts Water Technologies hosted its first-ever Healthcare Symposium Nov. 6-7 at its Watts Works Learning Center in the Boston suburb of North Andover, Massachusetts.
Watts brought together more than 30 engineers, architects, facility managers and pathogen experts for two full days of in-depth presentations and discussions on healthcare design. Legionella prevention was the major conversation point, but design best practices and emergency response issues were hot-button topics for others attending the symposium.
Special Pathogens Laboratory Technical Director Frank Sidari III, P.E., opened the presentations and discussion. He thoroughly covered Legionella for the assembled group noting the bacteria is “not ubiquitous, meaning it’s not everywhere.”
Sidari did add: “Legionella is found in approximately 50% of building water systems.”
That percentage drew a noticeable murmur from the crowd and Sidari reminded the crowd that it is impossible to eliminate the microorganism.
“Zero cases of Legionella is the goal, not zero Legionella,” he said. “It’s a bacteria and we’re never going to eradicate it.”
Sidari outlined a proper Legionella sampling action plan, which includes 10 samples per system, two samples per floor, and all taken from different locations where hospital patients can be exposed to the bacteria.
“You want to think about where is the greatest chance someone could get infected,” he said.
Loie Couch, a registered nurse and infection prevention specialist with St. Louis-based Barnes Jewish Hospital, was the second presenter and provided attendees with the disaster preparedness models her team employs at the 1,398-bed facility.
“For a catastrophic event, we have to be prepared to think on our feet,” she said. “You have to be familiar with your policies. We practice for these events.”
She asked the engineers in the room to refrain from being afraid to ask questions of us. “We’re not the enemy,” she noted.
Just before the lunch break, Watts Water Technologies Vice President of Global Electronics & Water Quality Nicolas Ganzon spoke about the company’s three major vertical platforms, which are safety and regulation valves, hot water systems and water conditioning. He spoke in an exclusive Facebook Live video with pme about its “multi-level system for protection against pathogens.”
It starts with water condition by filtering out sediments, organics and inorganics from the water. It limits scale buildup and protects valves, boilers, water heaters and the aesthetics of a plumbing system. Next is disinfection, followed by heat and hot water systems. The final element is residual dosing into the plumbing system.
“We work with a number of companies on residual dosing, whether it’s oxidation technologies such as chlorination or monochlorination,” Ganzon states.
After lunch, the Healthcare Symposium attendees took a tour of the Watts Work facility, which features learning labs, has product installations for the commercial and residential market to look over and learn best practices and more.
The day wrapped with Christoph Lohr, P.E., in the Phoenix office of Henderson Engineers, discussed plumbing design best practices for healthcare facilities.
“As engineers, we tend to be conservative,” he noted. “We want to make sure the system works.”
In addition, he told the assembled group one design best practice he learned is to route hot water from the shower line to the lavatory to make sure pathogens like Legionella don’t grow in the lavatory lines.
For healthcare applications, Lohr stated that “safety trumps energy efficiency.”
“Sit down with your management team and identify the right things you need for your design,” he said.