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In the latest show of futuristic technology, White Plains Hospital has unveiled robots that it is using to pulverize potentially lethal germs in its rooms. In introducing the space-aged R2-D2 look-a-likes, White Plains Hospital becomes one of the first hospitals in Westchester County to tap into a technology that uses pulsed xenon ultraviolet light to destroy bacteria, viruses, mold and other pathogens.
Affectionately named "Sparkle" and "R2 Clean2" by hospital staff, these portable disinfection systems manufactured by Texas-based Xenex Disinfection Services have been proven to be 20 times more effective in cleaning rooms than standard chemical cleaning alone. The devices destroy major microorganisms and "superbugs" that cause serious and sometimes lethal illnesses. The Xenex room disinfection system has been credited for helping other healthcare facilities in the U.S. decrease their MRSA and C. diff infection rates by more than 50 percent, according to studies.
"Adding this additional layer of protection for our patients simply makes sense," says Leigh Anne McMahon, a registered nurse who is chief nursing officer and senior vice president of patient care at the hospital. "Investing in the Xenex room disinfection units is another example of how White Plains Hospital is committed to being at the forefront of medical care."
It is estimated that infections acquired in hospitals are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and cost hospitals more than $30 billion a year. Treating a single MRSA infection, for example, costs approximately $23,000. Conversely, it has been estimated that using these robotic disinfection systems costs less than $3 per room. Here's how it works: The robot emits germ-killing ultraviolet light, so within a 5-10 minute cleaning cycle, the light destroys viruses, bacteria and bacterial spores. The light penetrates the cell walls of bacteria, viruses, mold, fungus and spores, causing the pathogens' DNA to fuse instantly, rendering them unable to reproduce or mutate. Without contact or chemicals, the robot kills harmful microorganisms safely and effectively.
The robot is always operated in an unoccupied room. While brief exposure to the light is not a threat to people, there are embedded safety features such as a motion detection system that shuts down the robot when movement is detected in the room. There's also an emergency stop button that provides an immediate shutdown should anyone need to reenter the room. The Xenex device contains no mercury or hydrogen peroxide and is the only "green" technology used in automated room disinfection.
A device can clean dozens of rooms per day, including patient rooms, operating rooms, equipment rooms, emergency rooms, intensive care units and public areas. White Plains Hospital has purchased two of these machines, investing roughly $200,000 that will enhance patient safety.
Source: Xenex Disinfection Services