Regional Medical Center is Disinfecting Rooms with Ultraviolet Rays

The Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg & Calhoun Counties has a new tool in the fight against infection: a bright, blue light.

RMC is the first hospital in South Carolina to acquire a Total Room Ultraviolet Disinfector (Tru-D). Used with regular cleaning, officials say it adds another layer of protection in patient rooms and operating suites against multi-drug resistant pathogens.

"We want our patients to have the safest healthcare we can provide," says Dr. John Samies, infectious diseases specialist and chairman of RMC's Infection Control Committee. "This high-powered ultraviolet light has moved cleaning of rooms and equipment to a higher level than we have been able to achieve before."

The bright blue lights of Tru-D give off ultraviolet-C energy, which kills bacterial pathogens and viruses that may be airborne or on surfaces. That can reduce patients' risk of developing healthcare-acquired infection, hospital officials say. 

Healthcare and correctional facilities, cruise lines and schools are increasingly faced with the challenge of eliminating environmental pathogens which have become resistant to many antibiotics ... as well as to the chemicals ... used in the disinfection process. "Tru-D is environmentally friendly, using no chemicals, while killing germs in the hospital," Samies says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports almost 2 million health care-associated infections each year, with an average additional cost of about $40,000 per patient who survives an infection. While facility costs for a Tru-D system vary based on its application in a health care facility, a typical Tru-D user should expect a system cost of about $5 per disinfection cycle for UV terminal cleaning of patient rooms and surgical suites.   

RMC environmental Services director Henry Miller said rooms are first cleaned in the usual way. Then the device is placed inside. "The equipment's sophisticated technology prevents anyone from being harmed by the bright blue light. Tru-D is able to check the room and determine how long it takes to get the job done. Then Tru-D goes to work killing germs," Miller says.

Sonya Ehrhardt, director of nurse utilization, clinical administration and infection control, said RMC's hospital-acquired infection rate is already well below the national average; even so, "We must be proactive when dealing with these newer, resistant pathogens."