Healthcare

ICRA 2.0: How Oberon Wireless AP Mounting Solutions Help Simplify ICRA 2.0 Procedure Compliance – Part 2

June 03, 2022

In a recent post, we told you about some important updates and changes to the Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) Procedures, known as ICRA 2.0, that help guide the construction and/or upgrade projects happening within any hospital or healthcare facility. These guidelines are especially important to understand for any wireless network designer or installers working in these environments, not only to confirm compliance, but ensure patient safety.

A healthcare facility’s top objective is to protect patients, including protection from airborne infectious disease. Poking holes through ceiling tiles to pass antennas or cables is not acceptable in hospitals, because  such openings in a ceiling can and do readily pass dust, spores and other airborne pathogens, all of which can severely  impact patient safety.

Furthermore, lifting ceiling tiles to service above ceiling access points is also restricted under ICRA procedures, and as such, it’s understood that wireless access points (APs) should be mounted in an  enclosure which permits access to the equipment, and connection to the data cable, without lifting or penetrating the suspended ceiling.

Ceiling tile with gap
Holes and gaps in the ceiling, like the ones seen above, are not permitted in hospital patient spaces.

 

Install Ceiling Tile
Lifting ceiling tiles (as seen here) is also restricted by ICRA procedures.

ICRA 2.0 Procedures: Challenges for the Network Designer and Installer

ICRA procedures specify that areas in which above-ceiling work (such as pulling cable or servicing wireless APs) is being performed, must have a barrier to separate the work space from the patient space. This work space then must be negatively pressurized, so dust and spores are not spread through the facility, and the exhaust is HEPA filtered and/or conducted away.

For ICT network designers and installers, these updated procedures have a significant impact on access point and cabling installation, moves, adds and changes.

Pressurized Barriers
Work spaces must be enclosed in negatively pressurized barriers.

To address some of the special considerations of deploying a wireless network in a healthcare environment, the Telecommunications Industry Association developed TIA 1179 – The Healthcare Facility Telecommunications Infrastructure Standard. Among other topics, the standard states:

  • Once ceiling tiles are closed, adding or changing cabling could jeopardize infection control measures.
  • Restrictions on removing ceiling tiles impacts adds, moves and changes, adding significant cost when it becomes necessary to access the ceiling.
  • Policies and procedures to mitigate Airborne Infectious Disease shall be adhered to.

The ANSI/BICSI 008-2018 standard, WLAN Systems Design and Implementation Best Practices also specifies that APs should be designed and installed so they are accessible for servicing and troubleshooting without need for infectious control protocols.

Additionally, the document states that the wireless AP infrastructure physical design should consider consistency, compatibility and ease of operational support while lowering overall cost. Design costs should consider both initial installation costs as well as operational costs. The installation should result in minimal operational cost during the lifecycle of the horizontal cable system including cable, connectivity and associated hardware.    

Simplify ICRA Procedure Compliance with Oberon Mounting Solutions

With all this in mind, it’s important to work with vendors that can provide wireless AP enclosures that permit access to ceiling-mounted wireless LAN access points and networking equipment without entering the area above the ceiling. Oberon offers both recessed enclosures for hard ceiling areas, and suspended ceiling enclosures which replace a standard 2’ x 2’ ceiling tile.

In both cases, the wireless AP fits into the door or within the enclosure, which itself has a solid back box that creates a barrier between the above ceiling space and the patient space.

This means the wireless equipment and cabling can be accessed without breaching the ceiling, so it is not necessary to create a barrier around the workspace, saving time and money if ICRA procedures do not need to be invoked.

The enclosures are also designed to permit the AP to provide the optimum wireless coverage. Excess cabling can be stowed inside the enclosure, and the interchangeable doors permit the access points to be easily swapped out during technology upgrades. The locking doors provide security for clearcut HIPAA compliance.

UL Listed

Oberon products are UL listed for mounting ITC equipment in suspended, hard ceiling, and recessed wall locations.

Fire- and Smoke-Rated Ceilings

Many ceilings act as fire and smoke barriers, and penetrations in such ceilings are restricted. Most of Oberon’s ceiling mounted products have a solid metal back-box which acts not only as a dust barrier, but also as a smoke and fire barrier. These all-metal products are intrinsically NEC plenum rated.

In most of the ceiling products, cable egress is through a UL Listed firestop grommet, further enhancing effectiveness as a fire and smoke barrier.

Firestop gasket
UL Listed firestop grommet for cable egress

Suspended Ceiling Areas

Oberon Model 1047 Locking suspended ceiling enclosure, shown with Meraki Wi-Fi AP in interchangeable door

Suspended Ceiling Areas

Oberon Model 1044 non-locking suspended ceiling and clouds ceiling mount, shown with Aruba Wi-Fi AP in interchangeable trim

Hard Ceiling Areas

 Oberon Model 1076 hard ceiling recessed locking enclosure with interchangeable door, Shown with Cisco (Left) and Aruba Wi-Fi AP (Right)

Hard Ceiling Areas

Oberon Model 1042 hard ceiling recessed mount with interchangeable trim, Shown with Aruba Wi-Fi AP

Recessed Wall mounts

Oberon Model 1018 hard ceiling or wall recessed mount. Low profile, UL Listed, all plastic construction

Ultimately, no matter what particular scenario a wireless network designer or installer may find themselves in, it’s important to stay current with compliance procedures such as ICRA 2.0 and do our part to ensure patient safety. We hope this two-part series can help you navigate the complexities of such change with simple solutions