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Germ-zapping robot enhances patient safety at Johnson City Medical Center

Xenex Healthcare Services : 20 June, 2013  (Application Story)
Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC) installs two germ-zapping Xenex robots that eliminate hard-to-kill bugs in hard-to-clean places.

The two Xenex robots, affectionately named 'Gizmo' and 'The Germinator' by JCMC team members, 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.

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. JCMC is the first hospital in Tennessee to implement the Xenex system, which has been credited for helping other healthcare facilities in the USA decrease their
MRSA and C diff infection rates.

"This technology represents a great leap forward in the health care industry's ongoing battle against superbugs," said Jamie Swift, Corporate Director of Infection Prevention for Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA). "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 five 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.

"Our team members are very excited to be using this kind of advanced technology in their daily work," said Brad Arnold, Director of Clinical Operations for MSHA. "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 David Nicely, MSHA Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of MSHA's Washington County, Tennessee, hospitals. "Johnson City Medical Center has long been recognized as the region's leader in medical technology and highly specialized care, 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."

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