A Hospital (and Maybe Your Home) are No Place for a Sick Person

           Click here to download Newspaper Article PDF: Keys to Prevent Sick People From Getting Sicker

             We have all have heard the saying that “a hospital is no place for a sick person.” Not only is it a “mom approved” saying, there are tons of statistics to bear that wisdom out.  

            The dirty truth is that not only are hospitals “no place for sick people,” so are a lot of our homes, workplaces, schools and other buildings. The “sick get sicker” equation in hospitals is the same for sick buildings. There are an abundance of contagions, contaminants, bacterium and viruses. There are also people at risk for disease in hospitals and many sick buildings.  

          Infection, contagion and contaminant control is essential in any building, especially those occupied or visited by people who are high risk for illness. Some of those at-risk people include:                

            Chemotherapy Patients

            Autoimmune Disease Patients     

            Immunosuppressed Patients

            Organ Transplant Patients

            Respiratory Patients 

            Cardio-vascular Patients

            Senior Citizens

            Those recovering from surgical procedures


Avoid Environmental Exposures to Stay on the Path to Good Health

             Would you let a poisonous snake bite you just because you had the anti-venom?

If you are like most of us, you also probably would not want to go into a snake pit. Sick buildings are snake pits for people.  

             You or someone you care about may be doing exactly that on a daily basis. That’s what we have been doing when we do not identify and correct environmental risks in sick buildings. This is especially important when high risk individuals are exposed. If you have an Asthmatic child, mold can be a problem. Organ transplant patients have the same risk. If mold exposure can lead to death in a hospital, it can do the same at home or work.

The Path to Good Health Can Start with Your Medical Provider

            Many medical resources and practices are available that include a holistic care approach. As an example, the most highly successful cancer treatment centers have earned that notoriety of success through that approach. The secret to managing disease is looking at the key factors that most influence its onset and course. Those factors are:

·         Nutrition

·         Lifestyle

·         Genetic

·         Environment

             The healthcare community is recognizing the importance of looking at those factors instead of only treating symptoms. Medical facilities, practitioners and insurance companies are now addressing the first three with new programs and financial incentives. Some of the most miraculous innovations in healthcare outcomes and maintaining quality of life have been in those four areas.

Environmental Problems – Or Their Solutions -Do Not Walk Up to You and Say “Hi”                        

             The environmental part of health care is often the most difficult to address for a number of reasons:

·         Patients do not know “what they do not know” about exposures in their homes

·         Sick patients are often less observant or conscientious about their exposures

·         Medical practitioners can’t follow the patient home to check the house

·         Patients can’t describe everything in their house that may be a hazard

·         Shortage of environmental professionals trained and experienced to evaluate buildings

         News stories and events have made us keenly aware of the wide variety of home, workplace and public building environmental problems.  Some of they include mold, allergens, legionella, pesticides, formaldehyde, mice feces, drug residue, sewage contaminants and a host of others.  

            Improper construction and product defects are another category of issues environmental concerns that need checked. This can include defective furnaces, improper plumbing installation, roof or foundation leaks, stored chemicals, spills and off-gassing materials, peeling paint, deteriorating asbestos products, sewage problems and thousands of other potential problems. We have hundreds of materials in every building and each should be considered when evaluating the potential for health problems     

                Hiring an Independent Environmental Consultant to Evaluate Sick Buildings

            Finding a professional to check for all of the possible exposures isn’t as simple a task. The first requirement for many people and businesses is confidentiality. If this is important to you, make that the first question you ask.

            The environmental professional needs to have an understanding of mechanical systems, especially HVAC issues and practices. Building science including building materials is a critical skill for this profession.   

              It is important to have an individual who is qualified to test for a wide array of contaminants. Many testing individuals only perform spore trap mold testing, few are qualified for viable testing including bacteria. VOC testing and recognition of potential contaminant sources is also critical. Recognition of risks such as asbestos and lead are important skills that are required.

             Most clients need an assessment of what the lab results mean in terms of exposure, and any possible solutions. Simply forwarding lab reports is not adequate for most situations. Lab results should be accompanied with explanations or remediation suggestions.

           Beware of remediators that offer testing for their specific services, especially when they are free. These results are often geared to generate work, not solve the client’s problems. They often only consider the type of work that the contractor performs and ignore other problems and solutions.


            When looking for and environmental consultant, look for experience and a wide range of services.  Consider the professionals experience, capabilities and willingness to work with medical professionals.

           Friends, associates, or your medical practitioner is a good referral source for finding these independent environmental assessment professionals.