Sioux Falls — February 22, 2016 — Meet Xena the germ-zapping warrior. She’s one of two new robots at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center that are super cleaners, able to destroy hard-to-kill superbugs — including those that cause hospital-acquired infections — within minutes by sending out intense pulses of ultraviolet (UV) light.
The robots will be used to disinfect critical areas at Avera McKennan. The goal is to have cleaner surfaces and areas, in order to help prevent hospital-acquired infections, which are often associated with complications and in some cases, death.
“This is all about improving patient safety. In other hospitals, pulsed xenon UV robots have reduced hospital-acquired infection rates significantly — in some studies by more than 50 percent. That’s a game changer for both patients and staff,” said Mary Leedom, Assistant Vice President of Surgical Services at Avera McKennan. “Although our infection rates are very low, we all know that hospital acquired infections can occur anywhere. We wanted to ensure that we are using the most cutting-edge technology to create an even safer environment for patients.”
The two robots will be used to disinfect operating rooms, the Ambulatory Surgery Center, the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the Oncology Transplant Unit at Avera McKennan. The UV disinfection system will add another layer of protection to the hospital’s standard disinfection process. Research shows that manual cleaning alone may remove less than half of the pathogens. Xenex robots have been shown in multiple peer-reviewed published studies to significantly reduce the amount of pathogens in hospital rooms.
After a standard room cleaning, the robot is brought in to the empty room and pulses intense UV-C light that kills bacteria, funguses and viruses within minutes. The light disinfects hard-to-reach places that humans might miss during the manual cleaning process.
Hospitals across the country have been adding Xenex pulsed xenon UV light disinfection systems to their infection prevention programs as clinical evidence has shown the benefits of broad spectrum UV light.
Clinical research shows the pulsed xenon UV room disinfection system quickly destroys even the most dangerous pathogens. For example, hospitals using pulsed xenon UV have published peer-reviewed studies demonstrating a 100 percent decrease in Surgical Site Infection (SSI) rates, a 53 percent reduction in infection rates for Clostridium difficile (C. diff), which can be resistant to general disinfection, and a 57 percent reduction in Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection rates, a bacteria that is fairly easy to kill but not as easy to treat.
Avera McKennan, the first hospital in South Dakota to implement Xenex Germ-Zapping Robots®, is participating in a clinical research study with Xenex, the robot manufacturer. The study will look at orthopedic infection rates at Avera and compare the rates to the previous 12 months to measure the decrease in infection rates. Avera also tracks infection rates as part of performance improvement.
“Once we see how well these perform, our goal is to acquire more units. We want to provide the same standard of care for all our patients,” said Judy Lamphron, Infection Control Program Manager at Avera McKennan.
What is it?
The square-shaped robots are about 4 feet tall, easily portable, and produce high-intensity UV light by pulsing xenon, an inert gas, in an ultraviolet flash lamp. The UV light passes through the cell walls of bacteria, viruses and bacterial spores and eliminates them without any contact or chemicals in a five-minute disinfection cycle.