Lighting Options for your Healthcare Facility
Jul 8, 2014

When it comes to Healthcare Facilities, lighting is a crucial concern. Is your current lighting meeting the needs of your facility? Chances are upgraded lighting options could benefit your facility by enhancing overall quality of care, and providing better performing and cost-effective solutions.

Lighting and its Impacts on Quality of Care

Lighting is often recognized as a “low-hanging fruit” in regards to energy efficiency; easy, cost-effective, with a quick return on investment. Given the extensive array of highly varied and specialized lighting that healthcare facilities typically use, they are uniquely positioned for a lighting retrofit, and all the benefits that follow.

First and foremost, quality lighting plays a crucial role in delivering better quality of care at your health facility. We can all understand how proper lighting aids in correct diagnosis and treatment. And we’ve all experienced how different lighting can provide a safer, warmer and more hospitable environment; in corridors, patient rooms, and visiting areas. But did you know that certain lighting fixtures are even designed to help reduce the risks of infections? Lighting has come of age!

According to a study conducted by Dr. Anjali Joseph, Director of Research for The Center of Health Design, “…adequate and appropriate exposure to light is critical for health and well-being of patients as well as staff in healthcare settings. A combination of daylight and electric light can meet these needs.”

Shift Workers at Risk

How many stories have we heard about a patient dying from being given the wrong medication or the wrong dosage? Healthcare workers already have a very demanding and stressful job. When night shift workers consistently work in environments with inadequate light levels, their circadian rhythm and sleep cycles are disrupted.

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences describes circadian rhythms as “…physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness…”

Circadian rhythm determines sleep patterns. It also influences patterns of hunger, hormone production, cell regeneration and body temperature. Changes to these various patterns also affect obesity, depression and other mood disorders. Therefore, it is important for a healthcare facility’s shift workers, who work during the evening, to be able to regulate their circadian rhythms; the best approach being proper artificial lighting design.

Without helping to regulate a night worker’s circadian rhythm, the likelihood of accidents and mental errors, that could be dangerous or life-threatening to themselves or their patients, is greatly increased. Workers may also experience fatigue, lower levels of productivity, poorer quality of work and a greater percent of absenteeism. The disruption of circadian rhythms for extended periods of time also puts shift workers are a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases and digestive tract problems.

AUS - Lighting Options for your Healthcare Facility

Circadian Rhythms in Patients

More and more we are aware of the direct correlation between lighting and patient health and mortality. According to Dr. Joseph’s study previously cited, patients in cardiac intensive-care units who are treated in sunny, bright rooms, stay an average of only 2.3 days, whereas patients in dull rooms stay an average of 3.3 days, with a corresponding higher mortality rate associated with lack of sunshine, as well. But whereas sunshine is not always accessible, proper simulated lighting is, and can be designed for any space.

Brighter Light means better Healthcare

Regular exposure to natural daylight is vital for both patients and workers. But when natural daylight isn’t accessible or available within a facility, artificial lighting is the next best choice.

Light emitting diode (LED) technology is one of the best overall lighting options available. An LED lighting fixture can produce bright light with a very high Color Rendering Index (CRI); closely resembling natural sunlight. Their ability to be dimmed allows for greater control of light levels, providing the flexibility needed to help regulate circadian rhythms.

LEDs also offer great energy efficiency, producing brighter light while using fewer watts than other lighting choices. Their 50,000-hour (or longer) rated lifespan significantly reduces a facility’s lighting maintenance costs, as well. For long-term care facilities and/or hospitals that operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, an LED lighting retrofit offers a very quick rate of return on investment.

Occupant Safety and Security

Basic lighting needs must include sufficient lighting for movement throughout the building.  Anyone who has ever walked into a dimly lit building after being outside on a bright and sunny day knows that uneven luminance levels can pose safety hazards of their own.

EXIT signs, emergency signs and emergency lighting all need to be available at all times, even during power outages. Good lighting also serves as an important security measure and crime deterrent.

Maximize your Savings

In addition to energy savings, the retrofit project may also qualify for additional benefits; various rebates, tax credits, green building certifications, and/or additional revenue through demand response or capacity PLC management.

Contact Alternative Utility Services, a nationwide energy consultant, to help guide you through your lighting retrofit; responding to the needs of your facility and ensuring the process runs smoothly, delivering on energy savings, quality and benefits.

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