These days, washing and sanitizing our hands is top of mind, as COVID-19 continues to spread. Now, Christenson Communities senior homes are taking it a step further by also disinfecting noses.
“We swab each nostril, with a pre-saturated swab that has the blue gel in it, and we make sure that we are getting good coverage because the gel can attach itself to the microbes, and then we insert the light tips to illuminate that area for just a few minutes and that causes the rupture of these cells of the microbes,” Ondine Biomedical corporate development director Angelika Vance said.
Christenson Communities have senior facilities in central and northern Alberta. They first tested this method in Edmonton at Village at Westmount.
This technology called Steriwave ND Photodisinfection was invented more than 10 years ago to reduce surgical infections, and the company says those infections have been reduced by 80 per cent in the last decade.
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It is too early to know if this method will prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Have we proven this? No. This is a brand new virus and a brand new problem, but we think that having a really important and effective nasal decolonization tool is going to make a difference, we will have to study what that means and we are going to have to look at what that does for the infection rates,” Ondine Biomedical CEO Carolyn Cross said.
“We believe the nose is a perfect breeding ground for pathogens, so if people decolonized in their nose, they are less likely to have the virus to spread on to others.
“It’s essentially an extra layer.”
“You can wash your hands, but you’re not washing your nose, if it’s in your nose, and you touch your nose, it can reinfect your hands even though you just washed. So we think it will be an important layer,” Cross said.
“We don’t know if it’s effective with COVID-19, but it will help prevent the spread of other pathogens because our population is a vulnerable sector why no protect them the best we can,” Christenson Communities CEO Izabella Roth said.
Currently, Christenson Communties is the only space to be providing nose sanitizing to their residents and staff. For it to be effective, they will have to do it a couple times a week.
The company stresses this is not a vaccine and is not expected to be effective for people already suffering from COVID-19.
The facility has already taken other measures. Currently, no visitors are allowed in. Roth said it was a difficult decision and they are looking at measures to keep residents busy, and not lonely. For people who need access in the facility, there is screening. Their temperature is taken, they are asked questions and they have to sanitize their hands.
“We are doing everything plus some, to protect our residents.”