This past month Grinnell Regional Medical Center and Grinnell College concluded a year and half long study looking into the effectiveness of using copper alloy materials in a hospital setting. The study was administered by Shannon Hinsa-Leasure, Ph.D., associate professor at Grinnell College and a research team of undergraduate students.
“This study is the first to demonstrate that copper alloy surfaces maintain reduced bacterial numbers in unoccupied and occupied patient rooms,” Hinsa-Leasure said. “This is in contrast to control rooms, where bacterial numbers rebound following terminal cleaning to levels comparable to those found in occupied control rooms.”
For the research, half of the patient rooms at GRMC were fitted with CuVerro copper alloys
and its germ-killing properties on high-touch surfaces. During the study, patient rooms were cleaned daily and subjected to a final, or terminal, cleaning upon patient discharge. High-touch areas were swabbed in occupied and unoccupied rooms and aerobic bacterial counts were determined for comparison purposes. GRMC’s size allowed it to be able to devote certain rooms that are rarely occupied to remain unoccupied for the length of study to act as a control.
GRMC’s move to copper surfaces was initiated in the name of patient safety and reducing risks of healthcare-acquired infections. Studies have found that pathogens can survive for days to months on dry surfaces, making it difficult to maintain the current suggested standard for surface-level cleanliness. However, since the research found significantly fewer bacteria on copper alloy products, more rooms will be outfitted with the same life-saving copper alloys to reduce risk of hospital acquired infections.
Hinsa-Leasure explains that “This [study] is key to protecting newly admitted patients from contracting infections through commonly touched surfaces, even when they are considered clean, and is integral to an effective infection-control strategy.”
Further details about the research can be found at www.grinnell.edu/academics/areas/biology/research/copper.
Written by Noah Segal, GRMC intern