Robots To The Rescue

To the human eye, this room at Edward Hospital is nice and clean. But if you look closer you could find millions of micro bacteria that could cause dangerous infections.

According to the Centers for Disease Control 1.7 million American acquire a Healthcare Associated Infection each with almost 100,000 of those being fatal.

So to keep patients safe at Edward, the hospital called in back-up, in the form of three new state of the art robots to help clean their patient and operating rooms.

“It raises a Xenon bulb the pulses that is 25,000 times more intense than sunlight,” explained Rachael Sparks, Technical Director for Xenex, the company who manufacturers the robots. “What it’s meant to do is disinfect the surfaces in the room, especially at high touch surfaces that we know bacteria can linger.”

In the interest of safety, the unit cleans when there is no one in the room. A member of the housekeeping staff rolls it in, sets it up, and in as little as 5 minutes the bacteria that lingered is gone.

The light isn’t terribly dangerous to humans, but it’s deadly to pesky germs.

“When that light hits the bacteria it breaks through the cell wall of the DNA of the virus and fuses their DNA, which prevents them from replicating so they die,” said Sparks.

Edward is the first hospital in the western suburbs to use the robots that kill five super-bugs including the MERS virus that can cause major health problems in hospitals.

“We’re especially concerned about multi-drug resistant organisms, like C. Difficile,” said Jonathan Pinsky, Medical Director of Infection Control at Edward Hospital.

And those virus-causing bacteria are all over the place.

“All hard surfaces, especially high-touch surfaces like phones, monitors, and nurse’s key-boards can really harbor bacteria deep in the nooks and crannies, that light can get to it,” said Sparks.

With a $125,000 price tag, the robots are a bit pricy, but if they prevent four to five infections here at Edward Hospital, they’ve paid for themselves.

“If someone was to get an infection, not only does the patient get sick, but it cost more money for healthcare, prolonged hospitalization and more treatment. More importantly, I think it can save lives,” said Dr. Pinsky.

The hospital has also named their three new robots: Snap, Crackle and Pop.


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