Ellis Medicine Unveils New Tool to Enhance Patient Safety

In an ongoing effort to improve patient safety, Ellis Medicine in Schenectady, N.Y. is the first hospital in the region, second in the state, to use Xenex's innovative germ-zapping technology to keep patients even safer from infections.

"We have zero-tolerance for hospital-acquired infections," says David Liebers, MD, chief medical officer at Ellis Medicine. "Ellis Medicine has a strong infection prevention program in place right now and we're already lowering infection rates--in fact, most are below state and national rates, but we want to do even better. We're taking this additional step to provide our patients with an extra layer of protection," he adds.

"We're always looking for innovative ways to provide even better, safer care and improve outcomes," says Eve Bankert, director of infection prevention and control for Ellis Medicine. "Xenex is the newest weapon in our arsenal. At Ellis, we're declaring war on hospital acquired infections with this advanced technology. "

Xenex Healthcare Services' portable room disinfection device pulses blue ultraviolet light throughout the patient room to quickly destroy viruses, bacteria and bacterial spores -- typically in about 5-10 minutes. Ellis will use the device after thorough cleaning by housekeeping staff of rooms where patients with infectious conditions have stayed.

"Our housekeepers currently follow Center for Disease Control and state DOH protocol when cleaning patient rooms and they do a good job," says Joe Salvione, director of environmental services at Ellis Medicine. "Xenex will support those efforts by providing our patients with an extra measure of disinfection," he adds.

Studies show the Xenex room disinfection system is consistently 20 times more effective than standard chemical cleaning practices.

"The Xenex system was first deployed in late 2010, meaning our early customers have now had enough time to calculate the impact Xenex is having on infection rates," explains Mark Stibich, PhD, chief scientific officer of Xenex. "In one hospital in Northampton, Mass, Clostridium difficile (C. diff) rates dropped 67 percent percent after adding UV light disinfection to their cleaning process."

Xenex's UV room disinfection technology will help Ellis Medicine further reduce the presence of bacteria -- including C. difficile -- a stubborn bacteria that's been on the rise in New York State and in hospitals across the country in recent years. Ellis has already achieved a dramatic drop in C. diff cases from 2011 to 2012 by aggressively focusing additional resources on preventing its transmission from patient to patient. The most current stats show Ellis with a 50 percent lower rate of C. diff infection than the state average.

The C. diff bacterium can be found in the community and can be transmitted when a patient is in any health care facility, including a hospital or a nursing home. C. diff is a bacterium that causes inflammation of the colon and can live in an environment for months.

"Because it's protected by a hard coating, a microorganism like C. diff requires an even stronger weapon than standard hospital cleaning products," says Stibich. "Our patented pulsed xenon UV light disinfection technology penetrates the shell and eliminates the C. diff spore," he added.

"We're dedicated to an overall culture of safety for our patients," says Liebers. "We are continuously striving to eliminate the transmission of infections by adhering to best practices, increasing surveillance -- and now by using the advanced technology of UV room disinfection. We are committed to providing the best possible care for every patient --and that means making sure they don't acquire an infection while in the hospital."

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