IWC Innovations had the unique opportunity to sit down with accomplished USA Today journalist, Elizabeth Weise, who was interested in our process of reopening a building after Covid-19 shutdowns. Elizabeth holds an official title with the publication as a Health Enterprise Reporter and for the past year her journalistic focus has been specifically on Covid.
While the article published continues the negative trend of most Covid related stories being about battling the effects of a pandemic, a piece of this story does shine as a bright light at the end of the pandemic tunnel: the ability to reopen buildings after being shut down for so long. This point of conversation not only signals the approaching conclusions of most shutdowns and restrictions, but so did the nature of how the story itself was reported. This was Elizabeth’s first time traveling out of California to interview in-person for a story since March of 2020.
Elizabeth made the trip in late May from her home in southern California to The Ahern Hotel and Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Ahern Hotel hired IWC Innovations to help them reopen their doors by combating negative effects of being shut down for such an extended period. Elizabeth stayed with the team for nearly four and a half hours while she was led step by step through the process of a proper building reopening, Legionella testing methods and Legionella risk management.
They began by collecting water samples from multiple locations representative of the facility's potable water systems and conducted tests on each for various physicochemical parameters such as pH, temperature, flow, metals and residual disinfectant.
The team then conducted a full qPCR Legionella testing regimen. Traditional Legionella culture testing requires samples to be taken at a facility and then shipped to a lab for testing. Results from this method can be received anywhere from ten to fourteen days. Onsite qPCR testing which the IWC team utilized at the Ahern, is an advanced rapid, effective method for monitoring Legionella Bacteria. The process differs from traditional culture testing by the ability to detect viable non-culturable cells that could be a threat. In addition, the process produces results in two and a half hours.
While sample collection and qPRC testing was taking place, the team also completed a comprehensive onsite Legionella risk assessment for the hotel. The assessment reviewed the water building system design, occupant information and history to help prevent future possibility of Legionella colonization.
The assessment and all around experience was led firsthand by IWC’s Chief Science Officer Bill Pearson. Bill is a leading water pathogen risk specialist and Certified Water Technologist (CWT) who Elizabeth first contacted to inquire about the story after learning he serves on the ASHRAE committee & and was one of the authors of the current ASHRAE Standard 188, Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems.
“It was refreshing to be asked so many sincere questions about our process and to speak with someone who was genuinely interested in the importance of proactive Legionella testing to mitigate potential health risks - in order to relay an accurate and complete story”.
CEO of The Gallagher Group International & Global Business Development Partner for IWC, Elizabeth Gallagher was also present at the event to oversee IWC’s onsite operations. Gallagher originally connected the team with the Ahern hotel, seeing the benefit of IWC’s services for the hotel and stated:
“IWC Innovations is proving to be a tremendous help in the efforts to reopen the Ahern Hotel and Convention Center. Ahern obviously wants to open as quickly as they can, but more importantly they want to do it safely, and for that I commend them. IWC has been a crucial partner in ensuring the Ahern has done everything in their power to mitigate any negative side effects and risks from the Covid-19 shutdowns. Working with both parties makes me confident they will reopen a safe and healthy workplace for all workers, clients and soon hotel guests!"
As buildings begin to reopen that sat idle or endured reduced operation, it is crucial to understand the specific Legionella water testing procedures required to reopen safely and properly. The best way to ensure you are keeping staff, clients and visitors safe from harm is to speak with a professional directly and discuss a plan for your unique facility.
For information on how to protect your staff, clients and visitors for reopening after an extended COVID-19 facility closure: