Heat and COVID-19: CISSS de l’Outaouais takes stock
Article published on 26 May 2020
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The Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) of the Outaouais must deal with new procedures concerning the use of air conditioners and ventilators to ensure the safety of users of the various health establishments due to the intense heat planned this week in the region.

The directrice du soutien à l’autonomie des personnes âgées (director of support for the autonomy of the elderly) at the CISSS de l’Outaouais, Judith Daoust, indicated that the installation, for example, of wall air conditioners in CHSLDs began this week, under several conditions dictated by health public.

The Establishment must install the devices by examining the risk factors associated with COVID-19. Mrs. Daoust also qualified the operation as “delicate”, because of the elements that must be considered, especially in places affected by the virus.

The National Institute of Public Health of Quebec indicates in a publication that there is no specific evidence for the use of portable air conditioners and pedestal ventilators for users suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.

In the absence of such data “the decision to use these devices in the bedroom and on a unit where users suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 are housed must be subject to a local risk assessment to determine whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages of using these devices.”

On Monday, the Premier of Quebec, François Legault recalled his long-term plan for CHSLDs, to ensure the safety of users in different scenarios.

Guiding principles to be applied at all times for all users (source: INSPQ)
- When installing and removing, adequate and regular maintenance of portable air conditioners (e.g. window air conditioners or other type) and pedestal fans must be carried out according to the manufacturer’s instructions according to local conditions.

- The air flow caused by these devices should not be directed towards the exit door of the room or the unit to avoid the dispersion of droplets out of the room or the unit.

- The air flow caused by these devices must not be directed towards the face of the user or another user if in a room accommodating several users. If this is not possible, a deflector or a screen could be installed in front of the device, to redirect the air flow away from the occupants’ faces.

- If present in a room accommodating several users, a risk assessment for each user accommodated in the room must be made. In addition, it is recommended to stop the rotation system of the pedestal fan in order to avoid radial or uncontrolled dispersion of particles.

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