When NYU Langone Health opened its state-of-the-art inpatient facility, the Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Pavilion, in June 2018, its cleaning team, supervised by Building Services, saw an opportunity to radically improve its disinfection techniques. Kimmel Pavilion’s 374 single-patient rooms feature many complex surfaces, such as the arms on bed tables that hold iPads used to operate interactive digital screens. Using conventional cleaning and disinfection methods on such intricate surfaces would take a long time, and might not cover every point of contact. So NYU Langone’s Building Services team collaborated with experts in infection prevention and control to test alternative disinfectant products and dispersal tools.
The ideal solution came in the form of a high-tech handheld spray gun that uses an electrical current to charge particles in liquid disinfectants. The charged droplets cling to surfaces and quickly spread to envelop all sides of an object. “The water molecules in the cleaning solution actually look for surfaces,” explains Joe Mraz, director of Building Services operations. “If I spray the front of something, you can touch the back of it and it will be wet because the solution gets pulled around the whole surface.”
Now the forward-thinking investment is paying unexpected dividends as the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreads in New York City.
“If I spray the front of something, you can touch the back of it and it will be wet because the solution gets pulled around the whole surface.” —Joe Mraz, Director of Building Services Operations
It’s not just the novel dispersal mechanism that makes a difference. The cleaning solution itself remains on surfaces longer than conventional disinfectants, leaving behind a protective film that keeps killing pathogens for 24 hours. “It’s like an invisible, extra vigilant housekeeper,” says Mraz.
The disinfectant also has the virtue of being nonirritating and environmentally friendly. “It’s water-based and cleared by environmental experts as safe for use in hospitals,” says Michael S. Phillips, MD, chief epidemiologist for NYU Langone and director of infection prevention and control, who works with Building Services to develop disinfection protocols. “It’s much safer than other chemicals.”
Since its debut in Kimmel Pavilion, the atomized sprayer is now the go-to tool for disinfecting inpatient rooms in Tisch Hospital, waiting areas in the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Emergency Services, operating rooms in Kimmel Pavilion and Tisch Hospital, and at NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn. And if NYU Langone experiences a high influx of patients, the sprayers will be deployed in “surge areas” designated for patients who may be infected with the novel respiratory virus.
“At all locations, cleaning staff have been fully trained,” says Peter Aguilar, senior administrative director for Building Services. “We’re ready.”