Designing Health Solutions: Participating in Harvard School of Public Health Scholarship By Claudette V. Guray, RMT (AMT) Photo

Designing Health Solutions: Participating in Harvard School of Public Health Scholarship By Claudette V. Guray, RMT (AMT)

Designing Health Solutions

The Harvard University School of Public Health’s Executive and Continuing Professional Education (ECPE) department presents occupational and environmental health and safety programs intended to provide the participants with solutions to issues of significant importance to their respective fields.

One such program is the Building Design and Engineering Approaches to Airborne Infection Control. Their program overview states that there is a “lack of technically qualified consultants” with the expertise required to address control of human airborne infections. The program provided lecture and laboratory workshops covering strategies that are applicable to preventing transmission in workplaces of all types, including hospitals, laboratories and congregate living settings. After completing the program, participants will have the ability to apply solutions that are effective for both resource-rich and resource-limited settings.

Among the learning objectives were:

  • Design for engineering interventions and outbreak preparedness specifically in the context of a comprehensive infection control plan for tuberculosis, H1N1, influenza (pandemic), SARS and other airborne bioterrorism agents.
  • Optimization of available indoor space including laboratory design to reduce airborne transmission, and to protect workers and specimens.
  • Recommend and fit test personal respiratory protection.
  • Design and measure relative room pressures for isolation and directional airflow.
  • Use, select and perform maintenance on in-duct and free-standing room air disinfection units.
  • Natural and mechanical ventilation, engineering interventionsfiltration, UV and the proper function of biological safety cabinets.

The program is geared towards professional engineers, architects, health and safety specialists, international health workers, government agency employees, relief and response teams, and Academics. Supported in part by the Partners in Health Organization as well as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Program Directors and Harvard University faculty included Paul A. Jensen, PhD, PE, CIH and Edward A. Nardell, MD. Additional faculty included Janet S. Baum, MA Architecture, AIA, Daniel O. Beaudoin, MS, CEM, CRM, LEED AP, Joseph Brain, SD, SM and many other well qualified experts in various related fields.

I was very pleased to have my application selected by the committee to participate in this year’s session, which was held from July 28th to August 11th at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. The participants came over from every side of the world represented many of the disciplines for the target audience; Everyone who participated, including myself, left the program feeling that the experience would immediately enhance our effectiveness in our specific areas of responsibility. Each lecture, demonstration or practical laboratory exercise was well thought out and effective in imparting the desired information. The format was quite inclusive and participants were encouraged to present subject matter and relative anecdotal material for the good of the group. I chose to provide some details around our own lab redesign and related some of the challenges we faced in this process. I received a significant amount of perspective as well as constructive comments on these matters, much of which have been extremely relevant to our situation. Other participants shared similar material and, given the variety of circumstances, the information was both interesting and informative. The material covered was extremely broad yet undiluted. Topics such as project management and design estimate conclusions were intermingled with specific engineering and architectural material related to infection control activities. Overall the faculty presentations were excellent, well-presented, and extremely current. The expertise of the faculty was evident in the delivery of the lecture material and in the content of the lab exercises and practical demonstrations. The lecture material and lab exercises were punctuated with hands-on experiences via visits to local hospitals and laboratories. Overall, despite an aggressive agenda covering a significant amount of material in a short time-frame, the program met its objective and I feel that I am much better equipped to facilitate our processes and laboratory improvement efforts. -BLC