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PlexusCalls - Microbes that Flourish in Hospital Air
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When: Friday, April 5, 2013
From 1:00 PM until 2:00 PM
Contact: Prucia Buscell

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Friday, April 5, 2013, 1-2 PM ET
Microbes that Flourish in Hospital Air
Guests: Jessica Green, Nancy Iversen, Trish Silber and Debra Harris

MP3 File


Microbes are the most abundant organisms on earth. Some make us sick and others are necessary to keep us functioning. Scientists are beginning to realize it’s important to know what’s growing in the air of our hermetically sealed indoor environments. Ecologist Jessica Green, a pioneer in the study of microbes in the air, thinks of indoor air as a microbial garden that architects and biologists can tend together. Our guests have insights on how people from different disciplines can collaborate for a microbial environment that promotes better human health.

Jessica Green is an associate professor at the University of Oregon, and a co-founder of the university’s Biology and Built Environment Center. She began her career researching microbes in the Arctic and other exotic places. With her background in civil and environmental engineering, she realized examining the built environment where we spend 90 percent of our time would make her research relevant to sustainability, design and human health. A Discover Magazine story explains that when a colleague wanted research data to influence a new generation of hospitals on how energy-saving ventilation systems could also produce healthier hospital air, Green persuaded the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to put up the money and the BioBE Center was born. In research relevant to hospitals, Green and colleagues compared microbial environments in rooms with open windows and sealed rooms with mechanical ventilation systems. In a TED talk, she says green buildings, designed to let outside air in, fostered a diverse microbial mix that included organisms one finds outdoors in plants and soil, and a higher likelihood of organisms that promote health. In rooms with mechanically ventilated air, the microbial populations were less diverse, and more akin to the populations associated with humans, and had a higher probability of carrying pathogens. Some evidence suggests indoor living may be associated with antibiotic resistance and auto immune disorders such as asthma and allergies. Research by Green and others may lead to new floor plans, new ventilation systems, and new ways to grow robust, diverse and healthy microbial gardens inside our buildings. Green coauthored the paper Architectural Design Influences the Diversity and Structure of the Built Environment Microbiome.

Nancy Iversen, RN, CIC, is Director of Patient Safety and Infection Control at Billings Clinic, in Billings, Montana, and a member of the facility’s board of directors. She is a nurse with 28 years experience who has worked in critical care, infection control and patient safety. Her special interests include hospital-based infection prevention and control, surgical infection prevention, reducing catheter-associated infections, MRSA prevention, the Positive Deviance approach to change, and improving teamwork and patient safety climates. She has been Board Certified in Infection Control since 1998 and is a graduate of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Patient Safety Officer Executive Development Program. She was the lead investigator for Billings Clinic in a national collaborative working to eliminate MRSA transmission that was sponsored by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Plexus Institute. She has presented at the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) annual conference, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) National Magnet Conference, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's National Forum, and Canada’s Forum on Patient Safety and Quality Improvement.

Trish Silber
is president of Aliniad Consulting Partners, Inc., a Washington D.C.-based consulting firm focused on leadership, team, and organization development. Her expertise is in coaching executives and in leading system-wide strategy and change efforts from a complexity perspective. She has over 25 years of experience consulting to businesses, government and not-for-profits. Trish earned an MBA from Santa Clara University and a BA in behavioral psychology from Connecticut
College. She served on the faculty of the George Washington University graduate program on leadership coaching from 2001 to 2006. Trish currently serves as board chair for Plexus Institute. She is also on the board of the National Environmental Education Foundation and the Advisory Council of The Leadership Sanctuary. She is a TED Fellow coach and participated in the 2012 SupporTED Collaboratorium.

Debra Harris, PhD, RID, AAHID, CEO and Director of Research at RAD Research + Design, is a leading expert in evidence based design. She is internationally recognized for research in building performance and occupant outcomes for healthcare, education and government organizations. Her PhD in architecture is from Texas A&M University, with an emphasis on health systems planning; and she is a Fellow of the Center for Health Systems & Design at Texas A&M University.Debra has written over 40 peer reviewed and trade publications, books, and book chapters; and presented to thousands of industry professionals on issues significant to the quality of the indoor environment. Her most recent published book is Design Details for Health: Making the Most of Design's Healing Potential, 2nd Edition – a reference that draws upon a rich source of evidence that supports the application of specific research-based details for the design of acute care, ambulatory care and long-term care facilities. In practice since 1985, Debra specializes in assimilating research into evidence-based strategies for facility design. Her research focuses on factors affecting user experience and outcomes, especially related to health, productivity, safety, and cost implications of the physical environment.

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