By Erin Swearingen
UTMB’s Environmental Services Department, contracted through Sodexo, is taking a leap into the future with the acquisition of two Xenex germ-zapping robots. The robots will join forces with department staff to reduce the bio load by up to 99.9 percent for most organisms throughout the areas of John Sealy towers where the risk of infection is most common: the SICU, MICU, CCU and isolation rooms. Each germ-zapping session will take mere minutes and the robots are easily portable, allowing them to be used virtually in any location throughout the hospital. By leveraging their expertise and the Xenex technology, Sodexo is helping UTMB improve the well-being of patients and hospital performance.
The Xenex robots use pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV-C) light that is 25,000 times more powerful than the sun to destroy harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and even bacterial spores. The system is effective even against the most dangerous pathogens including Clostridium difficile (C. diff), norovirus, influenza and staph bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA.
Sodexos Director of Environmental Services, Jason Botkin, explained that the robots are a supplement to our housekeeping staff, not a replacement. First, the bathroom will be thoroughly cleaned by Environmental Services personnel, then the designated Xenex “Super User” will place the Xenex robot in the clean bathroom, close the door and proceed to clean the bedroom. Each Xenex treatment takes about 5 minutes. When the manual bedroom cleaning is completed, the robot will be moved out of the bathroom, into the bedroom, activated by the Super User and the Environmental Services personnel will shut the bedroom door and move on to the next room. To ensure that no one is in the room when the device is run, the device is equipped with motion detectors to sense movement in the room and prevent accidental exposure. The UV light cannot penetrate doors, glass or plastic.
A recent MD Anderson Cancer Center study showed that a room disinfected with a pulsed xenon disinfection device, such as the Xenex robot, was 20 times cleaner than when traditional cleaning protocols were used and Cone Health in Greensboro, NC reported $2.3 million saved in HAI related costs after adding the Xenex robot to their disinfecting standard.
The Xenex robots and training representatives are scheduled to arrive the week of August 12. All personnel who will come in contact with the robots will be trained, but only four “Super Users” will be the designated operators of the machines. Each Super User will have to sign-in and out during each use and will be responsible for moving the robots in and out, to and from the rooms on each unit.
Sodexo is picking up the cost for each of the $125,000 machines, and Botkin hopes that in the next two to three years they can increase the number of the robots in the hospital to cover more ground. “It’s the next wave of preventing infection.”