Johnson City Medical Center now has two germ-zapping robots that eliminate hard-to-kill organsms in hard to clean places. The robots use pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV-C) light to destroy harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and even bacterial spores. (Ron Camp
Germs no longer stand a chance at Johnson City Medical Center thanks to a new robotic system that is being used by the hospital.
JCMC is the first hospital in Tennessee to utilize the Xenex robot to enhance cleaning efforts to better improve patient safety. The robotic system is a mobile ultraviolet disinfection device that pulses xenon ultraviolet, or UV-C, light to destroy bacteria and viruses, including influenza, staph bacteria and methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.
“These superbugs are very tough, and in fact, they’re very difficult to kill, and for our patients, they can cause very serious illnesses. Some of them, like staph or even MRSA, have even become resistant to antibiotics, which makes it even more difficult,” said Mountain States Health Alliance Vice President and CEO of Washington County facilities David Nicely.
JCMC has two Xenex robots, which have been named “Gizmo” and “The Germinator” by hospital staff.
The type of light emitted by the robot is about 25,000 times as intense as a typical light bulb. That level of intensity is what causes the germs to be killed.
The machine is about 99.99 percent effective, according to Rachel Sparks, a microbiologist and technical director for Xenex.
“With Xenex, what Johnson City Medical Center is doing is taking a leap in patient safety and making sure that all the surfaces in the room that patients, staff and visitors might touch have no more contamination on them and pose no more risk to the patient,” she said.
The cleaning process only takes about five minutes, and Sparks said the device can be rolled around the room for each cleaning sequence to ensure that every surface has been disinfected properly.
“Running the device for five minutes, they’ve cleared that area closest to the device completely of pathogens, including little nooks and crannies that we know are typically hard to get to with cleaner,” Sparks said.
Nicely said JCMC always strives to maintain an environment that is safe for patients, and he believes the system will greatly benefit from adding the Xenex to their ranks.
“Patient safety has always been the number one priority at Johnson City Medical Center and Johnson City Medical Center has always been recognized as a leader in this region as far as use of innovative technology. It is with this new Xenex technology that’s going to help us improve greatly our patient safety scores here,” he said.
JCMC’s use of the Xenex system is part of a pilot program at the hospital. Nicely said MSHA will begin using Xenex devices at other hospitals after the trial program at JCMC has ended.