Norton Audubon Hospital is waging war on germs with a new robot army.
Think R2-D2 meets an industrial-size vacuum cleaner meets a super-strength tanning bed on wheels and you might be able to visualize a new robot striking back against germs at Norton Audubon Hospital.
The hospital has invested in three Xenex germ-zapping robots, a secret weapon in its fight against hospital-acquired infections like methicillin-resistant Staph infection (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. diff).
About 1 in 25 patients in the U.S. gets a hospital-acquired infection every day, and about 75,000 in the U.S. will die from one each year. In other words, more people die from hospital-acquired infections each year than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
One of the simplest ways to prevent these infections is by ensuring hospitals are as germ-free as possible. The Norton Audubon Hospital germ-zapping robots can be up to seven times more effective than traditional cleaning and 23 percent faster. For example, the robot can kill C. diff spores in 4 minutes. Disinfecting patient rooms by hand following the standard cleaning protocol takes 12 minutes or less.
“Supporting studies show that use of these machines improves the quality of the patient environment and greatly decreases the possibility of these hospital-acquired conditions,” said Kristin Pickerell, R.N., director, quality and clinical effectiveness, Norton Audubon Hospital.
According to Xenex’s website, the robots can reduce the infection rate for C. diff by 70 percent, MRSA by 57 percent and surgical site infections by 100 percent.
Some microorganisms that cause infection are becoming resistant to standard hospital cleaning practices, which leaves patients vulnerable to infections. The germ-zapping robot attacks these “superbugs” with high-intensity ultraviolet (UV) light, which is 500 times more intense than sunlight. When it flashes across surfaces in hospital rooms, it destroys any lingering viruses, bacteria, fungi or bacterial spores that may be left after a standard cleaning.
The germ-zapping robot can be used in any type of room. After the room is cleaned by hand, the robot is wheeled in and set up, then left alone in the room to get to work zapping germs and bacteria missed by human hands.
Norton Audubon Hospital’s robot army went into active duty on April 11, 2016. Their mission is to be in action around the clock in operating rooms, the intensive care unit and rooms after patients are discharged.
Norton Audubon Hospital is anticipating significant reductions in infection rates and other patient safety improvements within the first year of use.
“The robots are an investment in our patients and another example of how Norton Healthcare continues to strive to find ways to care for our community,” said Jon Cooper, chief administrative officer, Norton Audubon Hospital.
As the germ-zapping robots make their way down the halls, patients, visitors and staff can feel safe knowing they are being protected by this high-tech army.
“We welcome the robots as new team members here to help our patients,” Cooper said.
– Tracy Keller
Norton Audubon Hospital is undergoing a $107 million renovation to improve care and services available to our central Louisville neighbors. Though the project will take about three years to complete, all services are open during construction, including the 24/7 emergency department.