Photo courtesy of Bayview
Bayview maintenance director Marty Bradbury swabs a push bar on a door for COVID-19 virus cells during a surface test of common touch points in different areas of Bayview recently. Bayview has contracted with Enviral Tech, a start-up company based in Eugene, Oregon, which provides surface environment testing for long-term care communities, nursing homes, schools and businesses as a way to detect COVID-19 in facilities.
Photo courtesy of Bayview Bayview maintenance director Marty Bradbury swabs a push bar on a door for COVID-19 virus cells during a surface test of common touch points in different areas of Bayview recently. Bayview has contracted with Enviral Tech, a start-up company based in Eugene, Oregon, which provides surface environment testing for long-term care communities, nursing homes, schools and businesses as a way to detect COVID-19 in facilities.
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Along with regularly monitoring residents and staff for COVID-19 symptoms, Bayview in Queen Anne has added environmental testing as another way to keep the virus from breaking out and spreading in the continuous-care facility.

Bayview in contracting with Enviral Tech, a virus-testing company based out of Eugene, Oregon, to test surfaces for COVID-19. Enviral Tech started in March of 2020 with the purpose of offering management at long-term care communities, schools and businesses a way to detect whether COVID-19 has been introduced into their facilities, according to its website.

Bayview CEO Nancy Weinbeck said administrators chose to partner with Enviral Tech as an added measure of security by providing weekly surface testing in the facility.

“It’s just another piece that helps us feel that we’re doing all the right things,” Weinbeck said.

For almost two months, Bayview staff have tested swabbed different surfaces in Bayview to test for COVID-19. As of Monday, Bayview administrators report the facility has not had any positive tests come back.

Because the facility has too many surfaces to make testing each one realistic, instead swabs are used in strategic areas. Weinbeck said staff collect 40 swabs from high-touch surfaces, such as push bars, or common-use areas used by certain part of the community throughout Bayview, which has been divided into zones.

“They shift each time, so we’re getting really good coverage week by week,” Weinbeck said of the surfaces tested.

After the swabs are collected, they are mailed to an Enviral Tech testing facility, and the results are returned in about 12 hours.

The testing swabs are made specifically to detect and quantify the COVID-19 virus SARS-CoV-2 shed on environmental surfaces, and do not use or impact human testing, according to the company’s website.

Weinbeck said, ideally, the Enviral Tech surface tests will not only give Bayview an indication how well current preventative and sanitation measures in the building are working but, if the virus is detected, would allow administrators to respond immediately and hopefully prevent further exposure or even an outbreak.

Weinbeck said because transmission of the virus by touching surfaces contaminated with COVID-19 is low, the test is only being used to tell if someone in the building is shedding the virus.

Bayview Health Services Administrator Joel Smith said after someone catches COVID-19, the virus replicates in their body and is released into the environment in a process called shedding. Because COVID-19 is airborne, Smith said COVID-19 shedding occurs when people exhale aerosolized vapors with the virus in them.

He said, while Bayview strongly recommends all staff and residents wear their masks outside their office or residences, there are touch points and common areas throughout Bayview where it is possible COVID-19 could be spread by asymptomatic virus carriers who momentarily take off their masks in a common area such as a break room used for eating or even in a meeting room during a casual sip of water.

If the COVID-19 virus is found on any of the surfaces in the zones swabbed weekly, administrators can determine where the positive sample was found — on what surfaces and in which zones  — and use that information to narrow down who should be tested for COVID-19 based on the group of people who regularly use or visit the zone.

Smith pointed out that the surface testing goes beyond any standards required by regulatory agencies.

“This gives our residence one more level of peace of mind that we’re remaining COVID-19 free,” Smith said.

Weinbeck said the environmental surface testing is just another layer of infection control. Bayview continues to practice advanced hygiene protocols established early in the pandemic.

“We continue to sanitize all our high-touch areas,” she said, adding, in addition to COVID-19, this is cold, flu and norovirus season, which can all be devastating to people, and regular cleaning regimes protect against the spread of those illnesses as well.

“So it’s definitely helping,” she said. “It’s not hurting anything.”

Weinbeck also said Bayview will not ease up on any of its safety measures or protocols, including taking temperatures and practicing social distancing and mask wearing until there is no longer a COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information about Enviral Tech, go to enviraltech.com.