After much effort, the Agaplesion Diakonie Hospital in Hamburg, Germany has designed two rooms for people with MCS and multiple allergies. For many years, local support groups have worked tirelessly to try to integrate environmentally controlled hospital rooms in the hospital. For the first time ever, it is possible for people who suffer from environmental illnesses or severe allergies to be in a hospital for medical treatment which is tailored to their health issues.
Environmental rooms for MCS, the environmentally ill, and multiple allergic patients
Since February 2011, with the move into the newly built Agaplesion DIAKONIE Medical Center in Hamburg (formerly the hospitals, Old Oaks, and Bethany Elim), for the first time, a hospital has two special pollutant free rooms prepared for those with environmental allergies, and MCS patients. The special environmental rooms have been built with much care. They consist of a single and a double room. Both rooms are connected by a vestibule from the other station areas separated so that chemical-sensitive patients do not come in contact with the usual hospital chemicals and fragrances from other patients.
Medical treatment, surgery, obstetrics
The Agaplesion Clinic offers the two environmental rooms which have been specially prepared for the treatment of patients in the medical environment including the following hospital departments in the with an integrated spectrum:
- Internal Medicine
- Geriatrics (geriatric medicine)
- Surgery, Hand Surgery, Plastic Surgery
- Gynecology, Obstetrics
- Anasthesia, Intensive Care
Criteria for inclusion in Environmental Room
There is a briefing which takes place through a doctor or the emergency room. During the first contact a message states that the patient wants a shot in the environmental room. The Agaplesion Clinic requires patients have medical evidence showing MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity), environmental allergies / intolerance (allergy multi-) and / or a present a chronic intoxication in the patient. A MCS and / or allergy passport is also useful to explain the need for inclusion in a special room environment.
Core Unit of the Environment Room
Rooms in conventional hospitals are not suitable for chemically sensitive patients. In general, the wards have PVC flooring and particleboard furniture. The environmental rooms in the Agaplesion Clinic have given much effort to create a plan that recognizes the needs of MCS sufferers with good air quality issues. The two environmental rooms were built with the low emission of air pollutants / safe building materials and furnishings, to ensure the safety for hypersensitive patients.
Some examples of the special features of the environmental room:
- Walls and ceilings with running Fermacell Green Line plates
- Massive exterior walls are lime
- Walls and ceilings painted with lime paint
- Rooms are equipped with a wall heater
- Floor is made of ceramic tiles.
- Window and door frames are insulated with hemp
- Doors are made of glass
- Exposure to electromagnetic fields has been reduced, including through the installation of power circuit breakers
- Furniture is made of enamel, metal, or stainless steel
The clinic staff shall ensure low-emission patient care:
- Attention is given to see if there are fragrance-containing and damaging products in patient vicinity.
- Patients are asked about their possible food intolerances to allergies, to drugs, disinfectants, medicines and anesthetics.
- A dietitian takes into account the patients’ food intolerances
- At the medical station information is summarized, and this can be viewed at any time by medical staff.
- The staff of the station is working together very closely with the support group „environmental illnesses MCS + CFS.”
- The room environment is cleaned with fragrance free detergents, but a disinfecting cleaning is essential to neutralize odors, so the patient is offered the use of effective microorganisms (EM 1).
- When necessary, patients may bring their own food which is kept in a refrigerator at the door. A kettle is also available there.
- The bedding of the entire hospital is fragrance-free but these patients are permitted to bring their own bedding.
Special measures for the benefit of environmental patients
- The use of fragrance-free and low-polluting products is offered to patients and their visitors
- The use of cell phones and smoking are not permitted in this area
- Living together requires all patients in the environmental room practice understanding, respect and helpfulness
Hospital life – side note
Important information for environmental patients and their physicians, that the Agaplesion Clinic is a hospital and not an environmental clinic. In a hospital procedures are regulated and special requests cannot be met. The Agaplesion Clinic breaks new ground by providing the two environmental rooms. The employees are trained on MCS and environmental illness, but they are dependent on cooperation between the patients, so that a smooth clinical work can be guaranteed. Perhaps at first patients won’t have the highest satisfaction, but patients should be understanding and possibly contribute constructive suggestions for improvement since this is the first attempt at providing environmentally safe rooms in a hospital. It is important for patients with chemical sensitivity (MCS) to realize that this is a new development at the clinic. For those with hyper-sensitivities, a stay at the hospital, despite careful selection of materials, initially may be fraught with problems because of outgassing and ecological matters.
The Chemically Sensitive are thankful for their commitment
The MCS support groups in Hamburg, which for years pursued the goal of a “MCS-friendly hospital room in a hospital” give hearty thanks and appreciation to the doctors, hospital planners, architects and government agencies that were involved in this project. All the best and much success for the safe environment in the new rooms at the Agaplesion Clinic!
Author: Silvia K. Müller, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network, 1 March 2011
Translation: Christi Howarth
Agaplesion Diakonie Hospital Hamburg, newsletter: environmental rooms for MCS patients and the environment / multiple allergies, January 2011
Agaplesion DIAKONIE Hospital Hamburg
Hohe Weide 17, 20259 Hamburg, Germany, Tel: (040) 7 90 20 – 0, Fax (040) 7 90 20 – 10 79, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Internet: www.dkh.de
Further CSN articles about MCS:
- Study could not confirm link between mental illness and chemical sensitivity
- Brain dysfunction in MCS – Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
- Research on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)
- A politically inconvenient illness