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Palmetto Health Adds Germ-Zapping “Robot” to its Patient Safety Arsenal
10/23/2013
Robots will be used at Palmetto Health hospitals as another Patient Safety tool

Columbia, S.C.—Today, Palmetto Health unveiled its newest tool in its patient safety arsenal, Xenex’s germ-eliminating robots. The new portable room disinfection system uses pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV) light that is 25,000 times more powerful than sunlight to destroy harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and bacterial spores before they can endanger patients. 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. Although each room will be personally cleaned by Palmetto Health team members, the robots will be deployed as an additional patient safety measure. 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, including patient rooms, operating rooms (ORs), equipment rooms, emergency rooms, intensive care units (ICUs) and public areas.

Palmetto Health is the first hospital in South Carolina to implement Xenex’s room disinfection device, which is being used by nearly 200 hospitals nationwide. Palmetto Health considers it another tool to add to its patient safety arsenal. Sangita Dash, M.D., infectious disease specialist with Palmetto Health and the University of South Carolina Department of Internal Medicine, said, “Everything that we can do to increase patient safety is a benefit to our patients. We do surveillance for hospital acquired infections and look out for potential transmission of microorganisms in the hospital environment. We are constantly looking to improve methods to prevent them. We are doing everything we can to help keep our patients safe.”

A “green,” mercury-free technology, the Xenex system is the fastest, safest and most effective method for the advanced cleaning of hospital rooms. Numerous hospitals that have implemented the Xenex room disinfection system have documented reductions in the presence of drug-resistant microorganisms and observed a return on investment through operational cost savings. In hospital trials, Xenex has consistently shown to be more than 20 times more effective than standard cleaning practices and a study performed at MD Anderson Cancer Center demonstrated that the Xenex system was more effective than bleach in reducing C. diff in patient rooms.

Palmetto Health already has a comprehensive patient safety program including larger initiatives like task force of team members across the hospital system working on national patient safety indicators and smaller components like lobby signs reminding those that have flu-like symptoms to wear a mask and hand sanitizers on every floor including outside each patient room.

Dash added, “Everyone has a role to play in preventing infections. This initiative gives us some extra help.” She reminds the community that the one thing that everyone can do to help reduce infection is hand hygiene.

The directors of Environmental Services at Palmetto Health hospitals have developed a comprehensive plan so the machines are in use around the clock. Their goal is make sure the technology is used in high risk areas in conjunction with the extensive cleaning services already provided by their Environmental Services team.

The Xenex system has been in place at Palmetto Health facilities since August. In fact, a Palmetto Health team member, James Love, recently set a new record for the most rooms cleaned with one device in a 24-hour period. Mark Ruoff, director of Environmental Services at Palmetto Health Richland, where Love works, said, “We have dedicated him to exclusively using the robots. He takes pride in the work that he is doing as part of our infection prevention team and feels he is making a difference for our patients.”

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.

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About Palmetto Health
Palmetto Health, the largest health care system in the Midlands and third largest non-governmental employer in South Carolina, is composed of more than 10,000 team members, physicians and volunteers working together to fulfill Palmetto Health’s vision: to be remembered by each patient as providing the care and compassion we want for our families and ourselves. The system includes four acute-care hospitals—Palmetto Health Baptist, Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, Palmetto Health Heart Hospital and Palmetto Health Richland—as well as an expansive physician practice network, dozens of affiliated clinics and specialty care practices and a 501(c)(3) foundation. Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge, the region’s newest hospital located in northwest Columbia, is scheduled to open spring 2014. Recognized nationally as one of the best places to work and receive care, Palmetto Health also trains the next generation of physicians through its 23 residency and fellowship programs affiliated with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. For more information, visit PalmettoHealth.org.
About Xenex Disinfection 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 Xenex.com.