Another Infection Control Headache?
In case you didn't hear this recently reported story on NPR, a new study has now linked a 2010 outbreak of Legionnaire's disease to a water feature at a hospital in Wisconsin. If you're not familiar, Legionnaires' disease is a severe and potentially deadly form of pneumonia caused by the bacteria Legionella, which can be inhaled from contaminated water sources. When eight people in the same region came down with the disease, local health officials managed to trace the outbreak back to a specific hospital in the southeast area of the state.
Looking beyond the obvious infection control ramifications of the story -- which continues to be a major issue in healthcare facilities across the country -- what does this say about the recent "hospitality" trend in healthcare facilities? We know the healthcare market is very competitive these days, and we know that many facilities have gone towards a more hotel-like design ethos in an effort to attract customers (and for other reasons, as well, of course). But if there are health and safety concerns, will the trend continue?
Granted a water feature is totally optional, and this may in fact be a simple, isolated incident owing to someone not maintaining the water feature properly. And of course, one is still capable of designing an elegant, hotel-like lobby without including one. But should further outbreaks be found, I wonder if there might be something of a backlash against the hospitality movement? After all, a beautiful lobby with a grand, winding staircase might get patients in the door initially, but at the end of the day, it's the outcomes that matter. The trend -- and the newswires -- will bear watching.