Union and hospital offer training for construction workers

By Frank Lewis

August 8, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Ever wonder what precautions have to be taken when construction workers are working on a project inside a medical facility? This week, the Carpenters Union and Southern Ohio Medical Center have been conducting training on Infection Control at the Scioto County Career Technical Center. Several units were constructed for the training.

“They’re mock-ups, but you have the soft-wall containment systems, with the poles and the quick-walls, zip-walls,” Trampas Puckett of Carpenters Local 437, said. “And you also have the mobile containment cart, and you also have the hard-wall system, which are the different levels that you’re working under.”

Patient health is a major concern during this sort of work.

“The construction INCRA (Infection Control Risk Assessment) was designed in 2008 by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters,” Dale Newlin, INCRA lead for the Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio Carpenters union, said. “Essentially it addresses the needs of the facilities while we’re working in that facility. The secondary infections play a part with any facility. They try to get a handle on that. We surely don’t want to jeopardize the construction project infecting patients, so patient priority is our No. 1 concern also.”

Newlin said there is an important reason for the precautions taken by the workers inside a medical facility.

“Essentially you’re dealing with immune-compromised people,” Newlin said. “There’s two kinds of people in a hospital - healthy and unhealthy - or staff and patients. So, when you bring a major renovation to a hospital, or even a simple construction project, there is a risk for secondary infections. This training really reduces the risk of that.”

The training takes 24 hours, 16 of which is in the classroom, and eight which is hands-on. Wednesday, those workers who had been in the classroom on Monday and Tuesday were working with the containment systems.

“They’re going to get a better understanding of blood-borne pathogens and the structure of the whole regulatory agencies - and New York City guidelines regarding mold or remediation,” Newlin said. “I would say it would meet or exceed the hospital’s recommendations for that infection control protocol.”

Puckett demonstrated the use of HEPA systems that vent out of the containment system, scrubbing the air, then sending it outside to prevent exposure.

“We were glad to represent SOMC at this morning’s infection control training. Infection control is very important to us, as it should be to all health care facilities, and we are grateful for everyone who worked to make this event available to our community,” Kathy Mullins, Infection Preventionist at Southern Ohio Medical Center, said.

Newlin said, while the training was about working inside a hospital such as SOMC, it has a wide-ranging use.

“Essentially this program is for any facility throughout the country,” Newlin said. “It’s taught the same, using the same curriculum. We have contractors working in the facility down here, and this training is only going to make them better. We’re getting guys that are combat-ready right now even before they set foot inside that door.”

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.