LOWELL, Mass. - A UMass Lowell researcher dedicated to improving the quality and safety of home health care recently received international recognition for her work.
The American Industrial Hygiene Association named UMass Lowell Public Health Prof. Margaret Quinn as the recipient of the organization's Alice Hamilton Award, which honors an outstanding woman who has made lasting contributions to the field.
Quinn, a Gloucester resident, has devoted much of her career to developing best practices and interventions that help prevent injuries and accidents, including explosions of oxygen tanks, while nurses, health aides, family members and others care for patients at home. The work is central to insuring the safety of caretakers whose responsibilities range from dressing wounds to lifting and moving patients, as more individuals recuperate at home or age in place.
The need for this work has never been greater. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to more than 98 million by 2060.
Quinn teaches in UMass Lowell's Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences and is the director of the Safe Home Care Program, which is part of the university's Lowell Center for Sustainable Production. The center, which she co-founded, develops and advances practical solutions to environmental and health problems faced by health-care workers and the public.
"I'm honored to receive this award, especially since it is named after Dr. Hamilton, who, a century ago, pioneered the study of the dangerous effects of industrial metals and chemicals and wrote one of the first modern textbooks on occupational and environmental health," Quinn said.
Quinn's research is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Under her direction, researchers in the Safe Home Care Program partner with private organizations, trade associations, labor unions and government agencies to improve conditions for health care providers and patients. Her most recent work offers scientific evidence on how individuals can clean and disinfect surfaces in the home without developing asthma or other conditions and identifies products and methods that are both effective to prevent infection and safe for respiratory health. She recently presented at the International Congress on Occupational Health in Dublin, Ireland on the health and safety challenges faced by caretakers working in the home.
"By improving the home care work environment for aides, our research helps agencies recruit, retain, develop and grow this workforce, which is necessary to care for our aging population. Safer conditions for aides also translates to safer conditions for clients and their families," Quinn said.
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