As hospitals across the nation look for new and innovative ways to battle deadly pathogens and kill multi-drug resistant organisms that put patients at risk, Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) has taken a leap into the future with the installation of two germ-zapping robots that eliminate hard-to-kill bugs in hard-to-clean places.
Technology startup Xenex manufactures a robot which uses UV light to disinfect hospital rooms that is showing some promise in cutting patient infection rates (Video at Colley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, MA).
The Xenex robots use pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV-C) light that is 25,000 times more powerful than sunlight to destroy harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even bacterial spores. The system is effective against even the most dangerous pathogens, including Clostridium difficile (C. diff), norovirus, influenza, and staph bacteria, including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA.
The Xenex system can disinfect a room in minutes and is easily portable, allowing it to be used in virtually any location within the hospital. NCH is the first hospital in the region to implement the Xenex UV room disinfection system, which has been credited for helping other healthcare facilities in the U.S. decrease their MRSA and C.diff infection rates by more than 50 percent, according to studies.
“This technology represents a great leap forward in preventing infections and ensuring patient safety,” says Tricia Elliott, Executive Director, Quality and Decision Support, at NCH. “NCH is excited to begin using the Xenex robots to help us achieve our goals in infection prevention. Patient safety remains our top priority.”
Because the Xenex robots use UV light, they are able to reach every surface in the room and do not leave a chemical residue. Each treatment takes about 5 minutes. To disinfect a room after standard cleaning procedures are complete, hospital team members wheel the Xenex robot into the room, position it beside the bed, begin the automated sequence, and then leave the room. A sign is placed outside the room warning people not to enter while the robot is in operation, and a motion sensor on the robot automatically shuts off the machine if anyone should enter. The process is then repeated on the other side of the bed and in the bathroom, for a total of 15 minutes to thoroughly clean each room.
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