Akron Children’s Hospital Case Study: Bacteria & Effective Drying

Akron Children’s Hospital is the largest pediatric health care provider of Northeast Ohio, USA. Well over 800,000 patients visit Akron’s Children’s Hospital, providing pediatric care in 78 locations. Their full range of services includes trauma and intensive care to treatment of rare diseases and serious childhood disorders. The main campus is located downtown with facilities specializing in genetics, fetal treatment, cancer, blood disorders, palliative care, orthopedics, pediatric trauma, pediatric intensive care and others. Overall, Akron Children’s Hospital is a leader in the field of pediatric health care and continuously set standards for all health care facilities.

Transporting patient to another Akron Children's facility. Photo credit: Akron Children's Hospital
Photo credit: Akron Children’s Hospital

One of Akron Children’s well-known services includes helicopter transport for critically ill or injured newborns, infants, children/adult burn patients from other facilities to Akron Children’s. As part of their kid-friendly initiative, they have dubbed their pediatric-dedicated transport helicopter as Air Bear ®. The transport team consists of skilled and experienced transport nurses, respiratory therapists and transport paramedics whose primary focus is to evaluate, prep. and transport patients. In 2010, 536 helicopter transports were performed by Air Bear ®; that’s approximately 45 transports per month.

Air Bear ® on flight.
Photo credit: Akron Children’s Hospital

This high call volume aroused the curiosity of transport nurse Jayme Wiggins RN, BSN, NREMT-B to launch an independent investigation based on the use of helicopter flight helmets used by the Air Bear crew and the degree of disease causing bacteria present. Akron Children’s Hospital contacted Williams Direct Dryers ™ on their own accord. They proposed an idea to WDD to design a drying system that could dry helicopter flight helmets and consequently reduce the presence of disease causing bacteria. Williams Direct Dryers went forward and built a flight helmet specific dryer.  An independent case study was then initiated by Akron Children’s to evaluate the type and quantity of bacteria growing within flight helmets and the efficacy of the helmet cleaning program. The qualitative/quantitative case study conducted by Akron Children’s Hospital found a series of 9 varieties of potentially lethal microbes populating flight helmets. These microbes were highly capable of causing a significant variety of human diseases.

Two procedures were studied for their effectiveness in bacterial control: 1) washing/Direct Drying per manufacturer’s recommendations and 2) Just Direct Drying™ continuously between use. The duration of this study was for a 13-month period.

Akron Children’s Hospital report conclusions presented the following:

• Washing and drying flight helmets with a Williams Direct Dryers per the helmet manufacturer’s recommendations reduces the microbe load by 77%. However this still left significant number of dangerous microbial varieties present in the flight helmets.

• Next, Akron needed a control. They let the flight helmets build up to the pre-wash/dry level of bacteria then only Direct Dried with a Williams Direct Dryer on a continuous basis between sorties. What they found was remarkable. Direct drying continuously between use effectively eliminated 100% of the microbe load in the flight helmets.

What is Direct Drying™?

Williams direct drying delivers air first to the furthest and hardest part of the garment to dry.  This makes it possible to help dry equipment gear completely, safely, and efficiently. Moreover, Williams Direct Dryers developed an effective drying technology that balances the need for warmth without the prospect of overheating fabric as it is designed to deliver warmed air at 10-15F/6-8C above room temperature.

Direct Drying™ can efficiently dry all types of natural and synthetic fabrics without causing damage or deterioration. Direct Drying™ increases the lifespan of gear. More importantly, offensive odors and disease causing bacteria can be eliminated with the ongoing, continual use of Williams Direct Drying systems as outlined in the Akron Children’s Hospital study.

From an Akron Children’s Hospital persective, Akron Children’s Hospital decided to ensure best practices for Air Bear ® and adopted the Williams Direct Dryers model H12 Drying System as part of their helicopter infection control protocol.

To view the report, see here: http://bit.ly/1mdCucm

Works Cited:

Wikipedia. “Akron Children’s Hospital.” Wikipedia.org, February 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akron_Children’s_Hospital>.

Akron Childrens. “Transport Services.” Akronchildrens.org, February 2015. https://www.akronchildrens.org/cms/transport/.