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

6/18/2013


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – As hospitals across the nation look for new and innovative ways to battle deadly pathogens and kill multi-drug resistant organisms that put patients at risk, Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC) has taken a leap into the future with the installation of two germ-zapping 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 U.S. decrease their MRSA and C.diff 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 5 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 CEO of MSHA’s Washington County, Tenn., 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.”

About Mountain States Health Alliance

Mountain States Health Alliance, a not-for-profit health care organization based in Johnson City, Tenn., operates a family of hospitals serving a 29-county, four-state region (Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Southeastern Kentucky and Western North Carolina). MSHA offers a large tertiary hospital, several community hospitals, two critical access hospitals, rehabilitation, a children’s hospital, a behavioral health hospital, home care and hospice services, retail pharmacies, a comprehensive medical management corporation, and the region’s only provider-owned health insurance company. Its 13,500 team members, associated physicians and volunteers are committed to its mission of bringing loving care to health care. For more information, visit www.msha.com.

About Xenex Healthcare Services

Xenex's patented pulse xenon UV room disinfection system is a pesticidal device used for the advanced environmental cleaning of healthcare facilities. The Xenex system has been repeatedly shown to integrate smoothly into hospital cleaning operations because of its speed and ease of use. The Xenex mission is to eliminate bacteria, viruses and spores in the patient environment that can cause hospital acquired infections and to become the new standard method for disinfection in healthcare facilities worldwide. For more information, visit www.xenex.com.

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