Freeze Drying and Why You Should Care
Do you have a lot of important documents in your office?
Is your office subjected to HIPAA regulations or client and patient confidentiality laws?
What is your plan for all those if you have a water damage event?
Did you know that SERVPRO of Easton, Bethlehem & Whitehall has a solution for that?
It starts with a relationship with your facility and an understanding about what the process is and how it works. Here is a snapshot. We need to have someone from your office that can assist with proper labeling of the boxes so none of the files are misfiled.
The next steps are critical and will ensure the largest number of documents survive.
Freezing Documents/Cold Storage
Where to find Cold Storage Facilities. Grocery Stores tend to have a vendor in their area that rents cold storage spaces to store their excess frozen goods until they are ready to be put on the shelf. These facilities regularly have extra space and will store documents as well. Price may vary depending on your location. However, the average rate around the country is roughly $4 a cubic foot per month. These facilities should be used primarily if you need Long-Term storage. SERVPRO Industries, Inc. also has cold storage available. Call and ask about available space and pricing. Documents should be sent to SERVPRO Industries, Inc. as soon as possible in order to minimize damage to documents and facilitate drying procedures to ensure efficient return.
Any of the major shipping carriers (UPS, FedEx, USPS) will work for smaller orders. Overnight Shipping is a MUST. Whether the documents are frozen or not. It is crucial that we receive these documents as soon as possible in order to keep them frozen until they are ready to be cycled through the chamber. This prevents further damage and deterioration. Overnight shipping is most important when dealing with documents that have not been frozen PRIOR to shipping. The sooner we receive documents that have not been frozen the sooner we can freeze them and stop them from further damage/deterioration. Refrigerated Trucks and Trailers (Reefer Trucks) Reefer trucks come in many different sizes, ranging from 16’ box trucks all the way to 53’ tractor trailers. They can be rented from a lot of the major rental companies like Penske, and Ryder. There are even smaller rental companies all over the nation that rent reefer trucks. Reefer trucks work the best when dealing with larger quantities of documents. This is because it doubles as your cold storage as well as shipping! Once you have the truck packed, all you have to do is find a driver to drive it to us and we’ll handle the rest!
Benefits of Vacuum Freeze Drying
Vacuum Freeze drying
- Process in which an item containing moisture is frozen and dried using various vacuums and pressures to achieve sublimation.
- Sublimation is the direct conversion of a solid (Ice) into a gas (water vapor), without passage through a liquid stage. Take Dry Ice for example. Dry ice is made of Carbon Dioxide, not water. When dry ice is exposed to normal atmospheric conditions it begins to sublimate, it turns directly from its sold stage into its gaseous stage bypassing the liquid stage
Why Vacuum Freeze Drying?
Vacuum Freeze Drying is the most efficient and effective way to salvage water damaged documents. It is the only method that is approved by NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) and the GSA (General Services Administration). Other Methods such as dehumidification can alter the structure of the paper’s fibers and cause the papers to become more brittle and is not recommended by any means.
Other Services Provided Digitizing
With the new age of technology majority of people have begun digitizing their documentation rather than keeping the hard paper copies. However, businesses that have been around for a long time (Hospitals, Law Firms, State and Federal Governments) still have a surplus of paper documentation. Most of these businesses do not have the time to digitize these old files. In the event that these documents need to be salvaged, digitizing may also be a good option. It makes them easier to access as well as easier to store. Many businesses have storage facilities that are specifically for documents, or they subcontract the storage and upkeep to a company like Iron Mountain. This makes accessing a particular file very difficult and painstaking.
In a contaminated water situation (Sewage or Flood water), documents are not only deteriorating but are also infected with all types of bacteria. As you all know, in most storm situations you are dealing with contaminated water. Therefore most of the affected documents that you will encounter will be contaminated. If this is the case then de-contamination is always a must.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Compliance
What is HIPAA?
Requires the protection and confidential handling of protected health information.
Why HIPAA is important?
- Doctors by law cannot release PHI (Protected Health Information) to just anyone. With that being said, covered entities (Hospitals, Physicians, Doctors, etc.) cannot release PHI for the purpose of recovery and/or restoration to anyone unless that Business Associate (BA) is HIPAA compliant. This is to ensure that their patient records are being handled properly and with minimal risk for any PHI to be compromised.
- Chain of Custody is the tracking of sensitive documents (or any documents) through a process. This depicts whose hands the documents passed through and when, allowing any company to track down any leaks of sensitive information (if such situation where to occur). It is crucial when handling sensitive documentation, especially when dealing with protected health information (Commonly Referred to as PHI).
- HIPAA Certifications ensure that personnel are Master HIPAA certified to handle PHI. This certification allows SERVPRO not only to handle PHI, but tells Covered Entities that we are held to a high standard and can and will be held accountable if any information is compromised.
We hope that this has given you something to think about. Should you like us to go through this further with those at your office please call us at 800-455-9453 and set up your appointment today.