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Germ-zapping robots enhance patient safety at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital

PHOTO: Kendrick Giles, a super-user from HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Environmental Services team, works with the Xenex robots to disinfect hospital rooms and procedure areas.

From Illinois Business Journal news services

BELLEVILLE – As hospitals around the country look for innovative ways to continually enhance quality patient care, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital recently invested in two germ-zapping robots that eliminate highly contagious superbugs in just minutes.

stelizabethgermzapperThe Xenex germ-zapping robots, nicknamed “Zappy” and “Max” through a hospital employee naming contest, use pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV-C) light that is 25,000 times more intense than sunlight to effectively eliminate harmful superbugs, including Clostridium difficile (C. diff), MRSA, influenza and Ebola. The two robots were purchased through funding from HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Foundation at the cost of approximately $89,000 each.

The portable robots are used as an extra layer of patient protection and are brought into operating rooms and certain patient rooms after hospital staff has done a thorough cleaning of the area. St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is the first in the Southwestern Illinois and St. Louis metro region to use this technology, and joins nearly 300 other hospitals nationwide using the robots. The Xenex system has been credited with helping health-care facilities across the nation reduce their rates of infection.

“Patient safety is always our top priority,” said Pamela Newmaster, director, Environmental Services at St. Elizabeth’s. “We are excited to add this new technology into our already strong infection prevention protocols so we can be even more proactive in protecting the health of our patients.” Newmaster notes that 15 colleagues are currently trained to utilize the Xenex technology and, since implementation it has been deployed to more than 1,170 rooms throughout the hospital. In addition, the robots have regularly scheduled duties in Operating Rooms, Emergency Department, Critical Care Units and the Cath Lab.

Because the Xenex robots use UV light to disinfect rooms, they are able to reach every surface in the room and do not leave any chemical residue. To disinfect a room after standard cleaning procedures have taken place, a hospital employee wheels the three-foot-tall robot into the room, begins the automated sequence, and then leaves the room to allow the robot to eliminate bacteria in just five minutes.


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