Foundation Grant Funds Innovative Project on Indoor Air Quality
Before the pandemic, air quality and the possibility of infrastructure changes to improve it were low on the list of priorities for nursing home leaders. However, after COVID hit, it garnered more interest and attention. “We used to think about this as a quality-of-life issue at best, but it has significant health implications,” said Brian McGarry, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He and his colleague Ashvin Gandhi, PhD, at the Anderson School at UCLA, recently received a $25,000 grant from the Foundation for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine for their proposed project, The Impact of Indoor Air Quality in U.S. Nursing Homes on COVID-19 Outbreaks and Resident Outcomes. (Watch the interview with Dr. McGarry here: https://youtu.be/Rwo2E_EMdL0
This project will investigate and oversee the development and distribution of a survey and the implementation of 20 wireless air-quality monitors at 10 partnering nursing homes to analyze data, prepare a manuscript, and disseminate the results. “There is general interest in this topic in all sorts of workplace settings. However, having good indoor air quality is critically important for the long-term care population because they spend the majority of their time in their facilities,” Dr. McGarry said.
The idea for this project rose out of the pandemic. As Dr. McGarry explained, “My colleagues and I have done a number of studies throughout the pandemic about what was happening in real time. As we shifted away from crisis mode, we have looked at what worked and what could have been done differently. Air quality came up in many conversations we had [with clinicians and other facility team leaders],” he recalls. Nursing homes were being bombarded with ads about air filters and HVAC system upgrades, he explains. Facility leaders want to improve air quality but want to know: What costs will be involved? What are the most effective changes or upgrade to make? How do we determine the best investment in these efforts?
“If we are to answer these questions, we need really strong data, and we need to know about what nursing homes have done to improve air quality. Such studies involve some expense, and the AMDA Foundation grant will be a great help,” said Dr. McGarry. “We feel very aligned between the goals of the Foundation regarding research and what we wanted to do. We are delighted to get this award, and it will be very helpful in terms of primary data collection. We hope to have some results soon.”
Dr. McGarry noted, “We have had to do a crash course on air quality. We’ve talked to many people who are experts. We’ve learned that air quality—even temperature—can have an impact on health issues such as cognitive performance and mood.”
Based on early conversations with a small number of nursing homes, Dr. McGarry said, “We’ve found that facilities tried many things to improve air quality during the pandemic, including upgrading filters and opening windows. The next piece will be looking at what worked and what didn’t. This isn’t just a watershed moment in nursing homes. It’s an opportunity to learn more about how to care for and keep residents safe in communal environments.”
The Foundation grant, Dr. McGarry explained, enables him and Dr. Gandhi to get started on their project right away. “Often with research projects, there is a lag between applying for a grant and availability of funding. Having smaller mechanisms such as this is so important, and we appreciate that the Foundation is willing to invest in innovative ideas,” he said. He looks forward to presenting some preliminary results at PALTC23 in Tampa, FL. He explained, “The AMDA conference is an excellent venue to present our results, and it’s important to address the role of the medical director in this. Often, AMDA members are my eyes and ears into how things are working in nursing homes.”
JAMDA Goes E-Only in 2023
Beginning in 2023, the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association (JAMDA) will become an online-only publication. Most academic journals have ceased print publication in recent years, and after 23 years of publishing in print, it is now time for JAMDA to also make the move to online-only.
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