Decatur Memorial Hospital installs germ-zapping robots to kill bugs

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, Decatur Memorial Hospital (DMH) 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.

“Patient safety is always our number one priority”

The two Xenex robots use pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV-C) light that is 25,000 times more powerful than the sun 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. In minutes, the device can disinfect a patient room, patient bathroom or operating room (OR) by pulsing the light, which washes over the surfaces where germs reside.

DMH is the only hospital in Decatur to have the Xenex room disinfection device. More than 125 hospitals nationwide are using the system with the purpose of reducing rates of infection and saving costs. The Xenex system has been credited for helping other healthcare facilities in the U.S. decrease their MRSA and C.diff infection rates. And it's safe. Because the light is extremely intense, the machine operates on its own once it's set up in a room. For enhanced safety, a sign placed outside the door warns people not to enter, and a motion sensor automatically shuts off the machine if someone should enter.

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.

"This technology represents a great leap forward in the health care industry's ongoing battle against superbugs," said Cindy Jenkins, director, Regulatory Compliance, Decatur Memorial Hospital. "There is a lot that we can do with hospital-grade germicides and bleach to sterilize surfaces, but there are always nooks and crannies that are hard to reach, and some bugs like C. diff are even showing resistance to chemical disinfectants. That's why it's more important now than ever for hospitals to take this battle to the next level. The Xenex robot allows us to do just that."

Because the Xenex robot uses UV light, it is able to reach every surface in the room, and it does 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. 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.

"Our Environmental Services team members are very excited to be using this kind of advanced technology in their daily work," said Ken White, director of DMH Environmental Services. "The Environmental Services team feels very empowered because they can clearly see that they're saving lives by preventing infections."

"Patient safety is always our number one priority," said Timothy D. Stone, Jr., executive vice president and administrator, DMH. "DMH has long been recognized as Decatur's leader in medical technology, so it's only fitting that we should employ the same level of technological innovation when it comes to preventing infections. One hospital-acquired infection is one too many, so we are excited to begin using the Xenex system to help us achieve our goal of zero infections."


Decatur Memorial Hospital 


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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