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Guidance for Temporary Plastic Barriers in Health Care Settings
As of 12/18/20
COVID-19 has created special challenges for health care settings. This is particularly true when creating safe environments for residents and patients who are under observation/quarantine or in isolation, as the number of these people can change quickly.
Facilities may need to group people for quarantine and isolation in ways that the original building design did not intend. For example, it may be necessary to house people in quarantine together at the end of a wing, or in a unit, or in some other space not originally intended for resident or patient care. Creating these types of spaces can involve installing temporary plastic barriers.
Whenever the intended use of an area of a building changes, a risk/hazard analysis should be completed and a written plan should be drafted that addresses ways to resolve identified risks. The written plan should be completed before installing barriers and should be available to surveyors and fire marshals upon request.
Examples of items to include in a risk/hazard analysis and written plan include:
- Reason for a temporary barrier.
- Documentation that the plastic barrier is NFPA 701 compliant.
- Frequency and method of cleaning and disinfecting “high-touch” areas of the temporary barrier.
- Frequency of visual inspection of the temporary barrier to verify suitable condition (no holes, tears, broken zippers or magnetic strips, etc.).
- Directive to place the barrier between sprinkler heads, as much as possible, to ensure that all areas are protected by sprinkler heads.
- Requirement to install a single-station smoke alarm if an area created by a barrier does not contain a smoke alarm. It is not necessary to connect the smoke alarm to the facility alarm system.
- Directive to require and train staff to activate the fire alarm system by manual means upon activation of a single-station smoke alarm.
- Timeframe for how long to use a temporary barrier and when to review whether to extend the use.
- Requirement to update the facility’s emergency plan to include evacuation of the special space created with a barrier. Determine in advance where to place evacuated residents when some do and some do not have COVID-19. Consider contacting local fire responders to inform them of the new evacuation process.
- A documented route and alternate methods to enter and leave the special space. Educate and train staff to use the route.