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How can I isolate COVID-19 patients in my facility?

How can I isolate COVID-19 patients in my facility?

Building Airborne Infection Isolation (AII) and Protective Environment (PE) Rooms

Since early 2020, we have seen healthcare facilities respond to the pandemic with great speed and resourcefulness. In addition to dealing with sometimes overwhelming workloads, they have found creative ways to source PPE, implement infection prevention protocols, speed up health & safety procedures, and run all their normal operations while saving lives.

In order to accommodate the influx of infected patients—while controlling the spread of infection—some healthcare organizations have had to make dramatic and sometimes permanent changes to existing buildings and floorplans. Adding Airborne Infection Isolation (AII) rooms has been one such change.

Sometimes called negative or positive pressure rooms, isolation rooms and wards contain airborne pathogens by controlling airflow in and out of the space. Many hospitals already use pressure technology to control airflow in operating rooms or ICU spaces. COVID-19 has brought isolation rooms into the spotlight for other facilities like nursing homes and long-term care facilities, surgeries and outpatient clinics, even dentists’ offices.

Healthcare facilities and new isolation spaces

Hospitals have been able to convert existing wards into functioning temporary isolation spaces in as little as an hour when necessary. China famously built a 1,000-bed hospital in about 10 days (using TSI HVAC testing instruments). For small, rural facilities, a fast and temporary solution can be their best option. Other organizations are interested in building long-term solutions that will serve them far into the future. Either option leads to making critical compliance and technology decisions.

Meeting applicable standards for AII and PE rooms

Airborne Infection Isolation (AII) rooms and Protective Environment (PE) rooms must comply with ASHRAE 170-2008, FGI/AIA 2010, CDC, ASHE and/or related standards. Most stipulate a pressure differential between the room and its hallway or anteroom of a minimum of 0.01 in. H2O (2.5 Pa). To stay in compliance and work properly, the pressure control technology must manage three things effectively: the true accuracy of the sensor (the total error), the drift, and calibration.

Weighing pressure control technologies for isolation spaces

Room pressure monitors and controlsTwo available technologies on the market today offer different methods of pressure control. Through-the-Wall (TTW) anemometer-based sensors use thermal anemometry to sense airflow and convert that data into an extremely accurate pressure reading. Capacitive pressure transducers measure the pressure differential between two separate areas by measuring the gap between one fixed diaphragm and one fluctuating diaphragm.

TSI experts have worked with sensor technology for decades and have experience with both types of pressure control instruments. We developed a 7-page application note that takes a deep dive into the differences between the two pressure control technologies and our recommendations for building effective isolation units. Read or download the paper, “Comparison of Differential Pressure Sensing Technologies in Hospital Isolation Rooms and Other Critical Environment Applications to see the full picture, and browse other TSI isolation room resources here:


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