Copper is an essential element in our body. It is also an element increasingly found in medical and hospital linens.
Sentara Albemarle Medical Center recently debuted new linens and patient gowns infused with copper. The medical center also has plans to install copper-infused handrails and tabletops for patients this summer, according to Bonnie Thrift the hospital’s Director of Patient Care Services.
Copper is known for its antimicrobial properties since antiquity and is what led Sentara Albermarle Medical Center to consider copper as a way to possibly eliminate hospital-acquired infections. In a clinical trial of copper-infused materials, Sentara found an 83 percent reduction in C. difficile, which is a highly infectious diarrhea that is acquired in an immuno-compromised population. It also saw a 78 percent reduction in hospital-acquired infections.
Based on these dramatic results. Sentara committed to a plan to install copper-infused linens and copper-infused tables and railings which were custom ordered by EOS Surfaces.
The linens, which are tan-colored, and gowns are in place only for the hospital’s inpatient areas — places patients stay overnight or for extended stays — and also aren’t in the women’s health areas until studies prove the effects copper might have on infants.
The materials are just as comfortable as the standard linens and some patients even prefer them more.
Copper-infused linens cost more. Sentara Albemarle’s cost for linens has nearly doubled at about $60,000 a year. They do not expect a significant return on their investment on copper-infused materials, but they believe they will significantly reduce patient infections, which is what they are committed to achieving.