Healthcare workers have been on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, making them particularly vulnerable to contracting the virus. At Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, Virginia, the fight is no different. The hospital was confronted with a challenge that many other facilities are faced with: how can healthcare workers be protected while providing vital and quality care to COVID-19 patients.
After much discussion and research, hospital officials sought to create an effective barrier between medical equipment and its patients. To successfully produce a solution to its problem, the hospital enlisted the services and products of global firestop leader Hilti. A life safety engineer initially reached out to the commercial construction manufacturer through AskHilti.com, an online education and discussion forum between customers and Hilti’s engineering team.
"We use Hilti products throughout the hospital,” said Bryan Costa, an engineer on staff at Riverside. “For running new data cabling through existing smoke and fire walls, you can't beat the Hilti Firestop Speed Sleeve. We found that we can also use that same Firestop Sleeve to run ventilator tubing and cables through the patient room walls.”
The Hilti CP 653 Firestop Speed Sleeve is designed to be integrated into a firestopping system to address the specific needs of specialized cabling environments. Its simple twist mechanism results in industry-leading airflow control. This helps facility managers reduce the spread of potentially harmful airborne pathogens. Inside the wall sleeve, the inner fabric liner twists close for a custom fit around the cables. Although not designed to hermetically seal openings, it does effectively help restrict the passage of air, an essential factor for life safety of the facility.
The wall sleeve installation allowed hospital engineers to position ventilators and IV pumps outside patient rooms, reducing the potential exposure of COVID-19 to its healthcare workers. This also enabled the medical team to monitor ventilators more effectively, with less downtime and more efficiency. Additionally, hospital officials say it’s helped them save protective gear, another crucial need to help reduce the spread of the virus.
“Equipment safely placed outside a room reduces the need to wear personal protective equipment, helping us conserve our supply,” said Robert Maynard, Business Process Improvement Manager at Riverside. "It's a thinking-outside-the-box type of concept. The Firestop Sleeve is designed to seal around the wires, stopping airflow between the two spaces. It works very well," said Maynard, who is also a licensed registered respiratory therapist with many years working in critical care. "It can reduce trips into a patient’s room."
“I am so proud that our team was able to make a contribution to helping protect healthcare heroes on the frontline during this public health crisis,” said Martina McIssac, President and CEO of Hilti North America.” And I am so glad that the hospital took advantage of the direct line to Hilti innovation through Ask Hilti. Riverside’s use of our firestop technology is a testament of how we can come together in this time to jointly handle the challenges this crisis brings to construction projects. Our engineers will remain ready and on call to support design modifications to enhance the speed and safety of projects.”
Maynard believes Hilti’s wall sleeve could be the future of healthcare, as the product has proven it can be an effective solution to help protect healthcare workers in a better, more efficient manner. Riverside Regional Medical Center is one of five hospitals in the Riverside Health System, which serves coastal Virginia. Officials are discussing a plan to install the wall sleeve at all hospital locations to help the fight against COVID-19.