Rebuilding Healthcare Facilities After Natural Disasters


Several hospitals may be flooded during a natural disaster due to wind and water damage; certain hospitals may flood for a long time due to flooding. Microorganisms, such as mold, the spores of mold, and bacteria, can highly contaminate equipment, structures, and even supplies. Before opening again, hospitals need to be inspected to determine 1.) whether the facility needs repair and should be declared a disaster and closed or) if the damage is sufficient that the facility can be repaired or restored and reopened. Keep reading for more information!

When the decision has been made to repair and occupy the building(s), damaged structures should be removed and destroyed to ensure recyclable materials and objects can be dried thoroughly or cleaned, repaired, and restored to their original use. 

Restoring an institution to its original function is a complicated, multi-disciplinary job, and the help of experts, engineers, specialists trained in building remediation, and medical equipment manufacturers is likely required for the task to be completed. 

After the work to repair the structure is completed and the building has been returned to its original condition, regular inspections of the newly restored structure are required to detect mold growth and begin elimination and prevention actions. The surveillance of laboratory and clinical facilities within the health facility for unusual clusters of infected diseases caused by environmental pathogens will be vital.

The information below is designed to help healthcare facilities clean up and open. Link to electronic copies of the recommendations issued by Governmental institutions and professional associations are included. Implementation of these recommendations is to be done according to the requirements of local and state certification, the finalization of fire and building inspections, and other pertinent requirements of local or state regulations.

Mold Remediation and Structural Recovery

Facilities that are clearly damaged by rain, wind, or flooding, such as those that suffered only the loss of electricity and air circulation (i.e., there is no standing water in the structure, but prolonged times of extreme temperatures and humidity), must be assessed to determine the severity of the damage and determine if the cleanup is safe to manage by using facilities’ in-house resources as well as staff from the facility. 

The requirements for personal protective equipment and cleaning methods may differ according to the extent of damage (Table). The confinement of the remediation area(s) is optional if the building is empty during the procedure.

Facilities with extensive water damage will benefit from assessment, remediation, and recovery work as provided by professionally trained remediation firms. For more info keep reading!

The building(s) will first be subject to an initial building and life safety inspection to determine if the building is safe for entry and if it has electrical power that is safe to support cleaning operations. In addition, the building needs to be assessed to ensure fire safety and security. After the remediation has been completed, the primary tasks included in this process include:

  • The restoration of the working sewer system;
  • The extraction of standing water and sewage
  • Reconstruction of potable water system
  • The installation of a suitable containment system for bioaerosols in the appropriate manner (i.e., if a part or building area is being used);
  • The work area should be ventilated (e.g., opening windows whenever it is), and a procedure to remove damaged materials from the area of work;
  • Removal of highly contaminated or damaged materials and other building products, particularly porous materials (Some construction materials like insulation are not directly testable, and therefore moisture detection equipment must be employed. );
  • Surface contamination is removed from non-porous materials with physical cleaning.
  • Surfaces treated with biocide or disinfectant if it is found to be necessary;
  • Drying and reassessment of water content in the remaining structural materials
  • Repair and rehabilitation of the structure, as well as repair of damaged objects;
  • The restoration of the power supply and backup generators
  • Thorough cleaning and drying of salvageable porous objects (e.g., draperies, curtains, bedding). If possible,
  • Evaluation of medical equipment and medical infrastructure for support (e.g., steam, medical gases, or compressed air) furniture, documents, and records, and the supplies to be repaired as well as
  • Cleansing and disinfecting surfaces in areas of patient care.

Water and Electrical Utilities

Before any remediation work begins, restoring functioning electrical, sewage, and water systems is crucial. The electrical integrity of the system (e.g., generators, insulation, wiring) is to be evaluated and repaired so that workers working on remediation are equipped with adequate lighting and power to their equipment when needed. An operating sewer system is essential to ensure the efficient extraction of standing water. 

The distribution system for potable water should also be inspected, and any repairs required. “Boil water” advisories will probably be in force at this point. It is recommended to talk with officials of the municipal water system to determine the status of water treatment concerns as the community restores vital services. A fire safety system within a structure must be inspected and, if necessary, repaired.

Ventilation System

Ensure that the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is not contaminated and assessed for damage. Expert advice is useful in determining whether the system requires to be replaced or if repairs and cleaning are sufficient. If repairs are needed on systems that are already in place, motorized parts (e.g., fans and blowers) are to be examined for damage caused by water, dirt, and debris. 

Then, the water must be cleared from ductwork and other components. Surfaces should be cleaned with disinfectants registered with the EPA and specifically suited for the treatment of ductwork, and the insulation and filters should be replaced.

HVAC components of the system, including the ductwork, which may never have been submerged, must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to get rid of any mold or bacteria that might be dispersed during the time the system is used. The following steps must be considered:

  • Separating the HVAC work of remediation from the cleaned parts of facilities with the barrier system and negative pressure, as well as venting exhaust air out to the outside;
  • Protective equipment for the respiratory tract and eyes, skin, and hearing should be employed by workers.
  • Examining whether asbestos is present within the HVAC system before undertaking remediation
  • Replacing the damaged insulation that has been affected by water in and surrounding the HVAC system;
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in the HVAC system or throwing away any damaged components and replacing them with new parts if this isn’t possible.

I am a social media geek. I spend most of my time trying new things on social media. I love to make friends so much that I would like to connect with you right now. Kindly hit me up after checking out this article.