The Ronald McDonald House of Charleston, USA, (RMHC) has unveiled an unprecedented renovation featuring Antimicrobial Copper – a material capable of killing germs, viruses and bacteria on contact – to further protect the health of the vulnerable children and families it serves. The extensive renovation, which makes RMHC the first non-profit temporary residence facility in the United States to undertake an Antimicrobial Copper retrofit, has replaced steel, wood and plastic touch surfaces with solid, copper-based metals like brass and bronze. Many high-traffic surfaces were converted, including: stair handrails, sinks, taps, tables, locksets, cabinet pulls and chair arms.
RMHC leaders and copper industry experts revealed the new look at a private ribbon-cutting ceremony on February 16th, attended by local business and civic leaders, current and former RMHC guests, and others. RMHC is the “home-away-from-home” for families of children from across the Southeast who are being treated at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).
The Medical University of South Carolina measured the amount of bacteria on the previous touch surfaces prior to the copper retrofit, and will compare the amount of bacteria on the new copper surfaces against their predecessors, with results scheduled for release in the third quarter of 2012.
In October 2011, results of a multi-site clinical trial of Antimicrobial Copper demonstrated that patients treated in Intensive Care Unit rooms with select Antimicrobial Copper surfaces had fewer healthcare-associated infections. The copper surfaces also had 97% fewer bacteria compared to standard healthcare surfaces made from plastic or steel. The dramatic results of this study suggest that reducing the amount of bacteria in the patient’s environment can significantly lower their risk of infection.
“When we learned about copper’s proven antimicrobial properties, we were anxious to be the first Ronald McDonald House to test the touch surfaces. I hope our results will help spur a public health trend toward the use of antimicrobial copper materials,” said Barbara Bond – executive director, Ronald McDonald House of Charleston. “It has been an honour to work with the copper manufacturers and installers who donated time and materials in helping us to make our facility even safer for our guests and their children,” she added.
“This practical application of Antimicrobial Copper will provide a strong ‘real world’ example that will give the American public a clear understanding of the public health benefits of copper materials not only in a healthcare setting, but also in hotels, restaurants and other public gathering places,” said Dr. Michael Schmidt, professor and vice chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at MUSC, and lead investigator on the multi-site study.
Initial discussions about the project began in 2010, and the Antimicrobial Copper installations started in the third quarter of 2011. The facility remained open throughout the retrofit project, allowing RMHC to continue providing much-needed services with limited disruption.
For more information about copper’s antimicrobial properties and installations from around the world, visit www.antimicrobialcopper.org.