Orlando Health 'hires' robot to keep patients healthy

Orlando Health 'hires' robot to keep patients healthy

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ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Hospitals constantly try to kill bacteria and viruses that could keep you in the hospital longer.  Orlando Health just added a new tool to its arsenal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection on any given day. The CDC also estimates about 75,000 hospital patients develop a HAI during their hospitalizations, and more than half of all of the infections occurred outside of the intensive care unit.

Now, South Seminole Hospital in Longwood has a new cleaning machine aimed to drastically cut those figures.

"It's a germ zapping robot," said Rachael Sparks, Technical Director for Xenex.

The room is first cleaned by humans. Then the three feet tall Xenex robot is rolled in.

"Then they start the device and leave the room,” said Sparks. “It runs for five minutes on its own."

Sparks said quick bursts of UV-C light bathe the surfaces of the room. Manufacturers said it’s too intense for humans to be inside the room while the machine works. However, patients and staff can watch the device operate through a window. The manufacturer said the UV-C waves cannot penetrate through the glass.

"It makes UV light like the sun but 25,000 times more intense than sunlight," said Sparks.

The Xenex robot can be used all over the hospital--  in the operating room, bathrooms, especially patients' rooms. And it works to kill germs off of every item in the room, including towels, needles, tables, and, of course, the beds.

Dr. Thomas Kelley is Chief Quality Officer at South Seminole Hospital. He said that before this technology, the hospital had to rely on chemicals and human hands.

"The most commonly used substance is bleach,” said Dr. Kelley. “But the limitation of bleach disinfection is that you can't really touch all surfaces of the room and some things aren't safe to use with bleach. With the Xenex device, we can hit every little nook and cranny and could kill every bacteria that could cause a problem."

"That's killing things like MRSA,” said Sparks. “All the nasty superbugs that we're really worried about."

Orlando Health leaders said it’s already proved its worth.

"Within South Seminole Hospital, since we've implemented this technology, we've seen a 47-percent reduction in some of the most serious acquired infections,” said Dr. Kelley.

That reduction is for the last year and a half that the hospital has had the technology.

"South Seminole hospital was one of our very first adopters," said Sparks.

The device came in handy a few weeks ago.

"The Xenex robot was used during the MERS outbreak at Dr Phillips Hospital,” said Dr. Kelley. “And they believe that also helped them achieve success in maintaining isolation of the infection."

South Seminole Hospital has one Xenex robot. The manufacturer brought in another robot to Dr. P. Phillips Hospital while they were dealing with the MERS case. Orlando Health hospital administrators are looking to buy more for the rest of the hospitals to use on a regular basis.

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