Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2003-0205-3032, Interfaith Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York.
On March 24, 2003, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request from the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) to conduct a health hazard evaluation (HHE) at Interfaith Medical Center (IMC) in Brooklyn, New York. The survey was conducted July 30 -August 1, 2003. Air monitoring was conducted in the endoscopy unit for glutaraldehyde and indoor environmental quality (IEQ), and ventilation measurements were taken in the operating room, intensive care unit (ICU), and emergency department at the main facility. IEQ measurements were also taken at the methadone clinic, which is at a separate location. Confidential interviews were conducted with twelve employees in the ICU at the main IMC facility, and an informal interview was conducted with three employees at the methadone clinic. OSHA logs were reviewed as well. Glutaraldehyde levels in air were well below applicable occupational exposure limits. However, approximately half the rooms at the main IMC facility lacked adequate ventilation and there was no mechanical ventilation system in place at the methadone clinic. Some employees were concerned about inadequate ventilation in their workplace. Another mentioned that there was a delay in learning whether a patient had a communicable disease. Employees also expressed satisfaction with management's timely response to their complaints. OSHA logs showed that there were 80 cases of workplace violence over a 2-year period. The NIOSH evaluation identified areas in the main IMC facility with inadequate ventilation. Ventilation at the methadone clinic was nonexistent, leading to complaints of heat exhaustion among employees. NIOSH investigators recommend consultation with ventilation engineers who are familiar with hospital facilities to improve ventilation. NIOSH investigators recommend addressing workplace violence, improving communication between management at the main IMC facility and management at the methadone clinic, as well as between employees and management at the methadone clinic.