Ensuring that the air entering hospital patient care units is clear of airborne pathogens is more critical than ever during the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. To expand the sterile zone for med-surg patients recuperating on the fifth floor at the St. Luke’s Allentown Campus, a second highly specialized in-duct air purification unit is being installed that, like the first, will completely kill the vexing virus in the air in 16 additional rooms, many occupied by patients with weakened immune systems.
The five-stage, proprietary molecular media and ultraviolet light air purifying unit, manufactured by LifeAire Systems, an Allentown company, will supply the “most pure air possible” to the rooms, says Kathryn C. Worrilow, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of LifeAire Systems.
The first unit at St. Luke’s Allentown was installed in the ductwork to protect 14 patient rooms on the fifth floor in December of 2017, which resulted in an amazing 39.5 percent reduction in length-of-stay and 23 percent decrease in operating costs, says Dr. Worrilow. The data from the 12-month study of 8,255 patients is being collaboratively published and has been submitted to a leading healthcare journal.
“Patients who breathe and recuperate in pathogen-free air have reduced opportunities to be exposed to airborne bacteria, viruses and fungi responsible for subclinical illness and infections and recover more quickly,” Dr. Worrilow adds. “By reducing the airborne pathogens in the air, they are also reduced on the surfaces in the patient room, again, reducing opportunities for patient exposure to infectious pathogens.”
Though the LifeAire air purification system was originally designed to kill the anthrax spore—one of the most difficult biological spores to eradicate — research has found that these air purification systems are highly effective against the coronavirus. Many airborne pathogens are tiny enough to pass easily through the conventional HEPA air-filtering systems.
The LifeAire units provide a 145-log kill reduction against COVID-19, many times more effective than a standard 6-log kill, which achieves sterile air.
“St. Luke’s Allentown is thankful to have industry partners like LifeAire to aid in advancing the already safe and great care we provide to our patients,” said Bill Moyer, president of St. Luke’s Allentown.
About St. Luke’s
Founded in 1872, St. Luke's University Health Network (SLUHN) is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network of more than 15,000 employees providing services at 11 hospitals and 300 outpatient sites. With annual net revenue greater than $2 billion, the Network’s service area includes 11 counties: Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Montgomery, Monroe, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke's is the preeminent teaching hospital in central-eastern Pennsylvania. In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke's created the Lehigh Valley's first and only regional medical school campus. It also operates the nation’s longest continuously operating School of Nursing, established in 1884, and 34 fully accredited graduate medical educational programs with 263 residents and fellows. St. Luke's is the only Lehigh Valley-based health care system with Medicare’s five- and four-star ratings (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction. St. Luke’s is both a Leapfrog Group and Healthgrades Top Hospital and a Newsweek World’s Best Hospital. In 2019, three of IBM Watson Health's 100 Top Hospitals were St. Luke's hospitals. St. Luke's University Hospital has earned the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation from IBM Watson Health seven times total and five years in a row. St. Luke's has also been cited by IBM Watson Health as a 50 Top Cardiovascular Program. Utilizing the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) system for both inpatient and outpatient services, the Network is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of the SLUHN's information technology applications such as telehealth, online scheduling and online pricing information. St. Luke's is also recognized as one of the state's lowest cost providers.