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Robots fight germs in local hospitals

By Jim Conrad
Published On: Jun 18 2013 04:02:29 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 17 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

Robots are on the frontline in the constant battle against infections in local hospitals.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -

Two new machines at an area hospital could be the best tools for eliminating an age-old problem -- infection.

Mountain States Health Alliance introduced two new germ-zapping robots on Tuesday. They use an ultraviolet light source 25,000 times more powerful than the sun to do their job.

Mountain States Health Alliance proudly introduced two of it new employees, "Gizmo" and "The Germinator", on Tuesday. Using ultraviolet light they zap hard-to-kill germs in hard-to-clean places.

The Xenex system destroys bacteria, viruses, and fungi that can cause infections. They're manufactured by Xenex Healthcare Services. "There are corners, there are shades, there are little nooks and crannies, so we established that what we do testing in a hospital room we actually have to run it in multiple positions. That's the correct way to use UV light. Once in a closed door, bathroom, maybe once or twice in a room, typically either side of the bed to get all of those little areas," says Rachael Sparks a representative with Xenex.

One robot takes about 15 minutes to disinfect a patient's room, but not completely; there's still the old-fashioned way of a good cleaning by staff. "In addition to the routine cleaning that we do in every patient room, we'll also be supplementing that with the Xenex. It will improve patient safety, it will improve outcomes and at the end of the day it will improve the bottom line of the hospital as well," said David Nicely, CEO of Washington County Hospitals.

Nicely tells us that just one patient infection costs about $140,000 to take care of. The cost of the new machines is about half that, which makes them valuable tools in the hospitals' constant battle against the new so-called superbugs. "Standard cleaning is important and hygiene is important, none of that will change. This is just going to be the supplemental treatment that we really think is going to make a difference," says Jamie Swift, Director of Infection Prevention.

Call them super robots that are front line in the constant battle against germs.

The Xenex system is now in use in over 125 hospitals across the nation.