Temporary Hospital Isolation Rooms to Control Outbreaks of Infectious Disease

Posted by Tim Richards on January 13, 2022
Tim Richards

Temporary Hospital Isolation Rooms

The number of hospital airborne infection isolation rooms is limited. An outbreak of infectious disease produces a demand for a large number of rooms. 

The past year and a half have highlighted navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare facility managers have come to terms with the extreme realization of the critical importance of medical gas systems, the effects of increased demand on the hospital infrastructure, and the need for more hospital isolation rooms and negative pressure rooms. 

As a result of pushing the facilities beyond their limits, additional considerations are acknowledged, and now more than ever, the need to address the management of infectious disease is at the forefront.


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The Necessity for Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms

Controlling the spread of an infectious disease is vital to maintaining a safe healthcare environment. 

An isolation room needs to be sealed to prevent air leakage to or from the room to minimize the spread of airborne infections. The AII rooms, commonly called negative pressure rooms, are meant for single patient occupancy and designed to isolate airborne pathogens.

The internal air is forced out to create negative air pressure, pulling air passively into the system from other inlets. 



Image credit: Rrobotto, Negative Air Pressure CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Isolation rooms are negatively pressurized with respect to adjacent areas to prevent airborne contaminants from drifting to other places and contaminating patients, staff, and sterile equipment.

According to the CDC, the rooms should provide negative pressure so that air flows under the door gap into the room...


" an airflow rate of 6-12 ACH (6 ACH for existing structures, 12 ACH for new construction or renovation, and direct exhaust of air from the room to the outside of the building or recirculation of air through a HEPA filter before returning to circulation (MMWR 2003; 52 [RR-10]; MMWR 1994; 43 [RR-13]). [source]


In these extreme times, it is critical that hospital ventilation systems are in proper working order. When the pandemic first hit, we also discussed COVID-19 and negative pressure rooms in hospitals.

Although COVID-19 was not initially considered an airborne disease, according to the CDC, a patient known to have contracted the coronavirus can spread it from person to person. This means between people in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Many facilities are choosing to place potentially infected COVID-19 patients in isolation rooms when resources allow. 
Results of a new study led by the University of Maryland School of Public Health show the COVID-19 virus evolving to get better at becoming airborne. 
"Our research indicates that the variants just keep getting better at traveling through the air, so we must provide better ventilation," says Dr. Don Milton, professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health (UMD SPH).


Airborne Infectious Disease Management 

The infected patient surges hospitals are experiencing show the need for facilities to accommodate the increased capacity. 

Is your healthcare facility prepared for a surge or resurge of cases in your area? 

Hospitals can start identifying areas that could be engineered as temporary negative pressure rooms to accommodate the overflow. Healthcare facilities should begin to take a new approach to solve the need for extra rooms.

Hospitals are seeing the importance of repurposing existing healthcare spaces to accommodate patient capacity. Hospitals can invest in temporary cost-effective rooms. As infection control remains a top priority, temporary containment solutions should be looked at as a solution. 

STARC, known for its reusable wall containments, is designed to hide the disruption of renovations and can also be used for effective infection control.

Watch the video below to see how a STARC reusable wall containment is used in healthcare and corporate applications and more.

source: STARC Systems, Overview: Reusable Temporary Wall Containment, via YouTube 

The benefits of a temporary build are endless - from cost-effective options, segregating noise and dust, to quick installation, and can be quickly disinfected.


The essential advantage is the extra space to care for your patients. The wall containments offer hospitals a solution to reduce the risk of transmission of viral infections, including COVID-19. 

The air cannot escape to other sections of your facility when the door is closed and the hospital ventilation system is operating correctly.

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE's) Standard 170, Ventilation of Health Care Facilities, requires each isolation room to have a permanently installed visual device or mechanism to constantly monitor the air pressure differential of the room when occupied by a patient who requires isolation.

In Summary

Infection control remains the cornerstone for minimizing the transmission of infectious diseases. Hospitals have insufficient facilities to provide airborne infection isolation for large numbers of patients when the disease presents itself in a short amount of time.  

Temporary negative pressure isolation rooms are a safe alternative for hospitals lacking the space of engineered airborne infection isolation rooms. Facilities can use them to meet the increased surge capacity for patient isolation.

When rooms are not properly pressurized (negative or positive), airborne contaminants can escape putting the health of patients, staff, and visitors at risk.

CHT offers medical gas services to help you reach your compliance goals and keep your hospital safe. 


Tim Richards

Tim Richards

Technical Director at CHT Healthcare
Tim has been working in the medical gas industry since 2002, and is dedicated to establishing long-term relationships by surpassing the needs of his clients. Tim holds a BS in Biology from Concordia University Wisconsin, maintains ASSE Medical Gas certifications as an Installer, Verifier, and Instructor.