Leigh Ann Barney

As healthcare and senior living and care providers continue to grapple with COVID-19 infections, flu season is rapidly approaching.

Trilogy Health Services, with more than 100 communities in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio, is banking on a new defensive shield to protect residents and staff from those viruses and more.

The provider has rolled out its Trilogy Shield program systemside, working with 3M to develop sanitizing and hygiene-tracing strategies, choose cleaning solutions and address new COVID-19 threats — such as droplet transmission — as they are recognized.

Each new addition begins with a pilot program that emphasizes environmental services staff training and feedback, a validation period and a chance to add needed refinements.

“It’s a lot of hands-on work early on to ensure that all of the wrinkles are ironed out and that we have a clean process we can hand over to the rest of the company,” Parker Lacy, vice president of facilities, told McKnight’s in an email. “Following that process and staying disciplined helps us ensure that our final product is easy for our staff to understand and execute, which allows them to keep it standardized long-term.”

Current Shield pilots for additional services include 3M’s Clean Trace program, including ATP testing to ensure disinfection of surfaces; cold plasma air-purification systems installed in heating and air conditioning ducts, where they can purify potentially harmful organic matter such as viruses; and in-room UV sanitation.

CEO Leigh Ann Barney declined to state the cost of the program, which she said has been combined with regular testing and other factors to reduce outbreaks. Fewer cases, though, ultimately will reduce overall costs associated with the pandemic.

Vice President Parker Lacy

“We believe the investments we’ve made in the Trilogy Shield are justified by our dedication to the health and safety of our residents and employees,” Barney said. “Perhaps most importantly, the development of the Trilogy Shield signals to our residents, employees and families that their health and safety are our top priority. …If an investment equates to better quality of life for these groups, we make it work.”

And if some additions do double duty, all the better. Lacy noted that ATP testing has been shown to improve environmental behaviors, UV light doubles as a Clostridioides difficile killer, and cold plasma improves air quality overall.

As the pandemic drags on, medical experts and scientists better understand what works against it and what doesn’t. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued revised disinfection guidelines for non-healthcare community sites, including those where people stay overnight.

At Trilogy, Lacy said, the focus is on “being brilliant at the basics,” which starts with educating the all in-house environmental services staff about infection control.

“We know that breaking the chain of infection is key,” he said. “As we learn more about COVID-19 and the nature of its spread, we invest in new tools and processes that can meet our needs. …If we’re doing it, we’re doing it because we intend to use a process for the long-term.”