Improving Indoor Air Quality During the Winter Months

Emergency Preparedness; Life Safety
​The pandemic has placed significant emphasis on indoor air quality (IAQ) and with respiratory viruses more common during the winter months, AHCA/NCAL is sharing some applicable resources and tools on how to improve indoor air quality. Our elderly residents, particularly those with multiple medical conditions, are at risk of developing serious illnesses or being hospitalized. Improving indoor air quality can decrease the spread of Influenza, RSV, COVID-19, and other respiratory viruses.   

In efforts to maintain compliance with health care facility heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) requirements, facilities can refer to  Chapter 9 of the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) 99 (The Healthcare Facilities Code®)  CMS has adopted the 2012 edition. Keep in mind the scope of this chapter generally applies to the new facility construction, renovation, or the replacement of existing systems. 

NFPA 99 references the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 170 (Ventilation of Health Care Facilities) when it comes to detailed design and installation criteria of HVAC systems. The document itself can be purchased online at the ASHRAE bookstore.

Beyond the more technical ASHRAE 170 design guide, the ASHRAE website dedicates an entire page to Guidance for Covid Mitigation in Residential Healthcare Buildings.  Here you will find streamlined recommendations and best practices on topics such as:

  • HVAC strategies for LTC infection management and prevention
  • Filtration
  • Air cleaning
  • Air pressure
  • Air recirculation
  • System maintenance
  • Filter replacement

AHCA/NCAL recently hosted a webinar focused on practical steps long term care facilities can take to prepare for the increase in respiratory viruses anticipated this winter.

​As a reminder, CMS funding of up to $3,000 per facility continues to be available through the use of civil monetary penalty (CMP) reinvestment funds. Facilities may request the use of CMP funds to purchase portable fans and portable room air cleaners As outlined in QSO-20-39-NH.

With IAQ being a multi-faceted topic to understand and manage, AHCA/NCAL is hopeful these resources can serve as helpful guidance and tools.