Janine Kirby, EVS Tech II, prepares the machine for service. (Jefferson Healthcare)

Janine Kirby, EVS Tech II, prepares the machine for service. (Jefferson Healthcare)

Robot zapping germs at Port Townsend hospital

Jefferson Healthcare uses UV light to destroy pathogens

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson Healthcare officials report that the hospital has “taken a leap into the future” with a germ-zapping robot.

The $85,000 LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robot, named ELISA by one of the engineers who built it, quickly destroys microscopic pathogens in hard-to-clean places, according to a hospital press release.

The robot has been disinfecting rooms inside the Port Townsend hospital, which is the first healthcare facility on the North Olympic Peninsula to deploy a LightStrike robot, according to the release.

The robot is operated by facility cleaning staff. It will not replace employees, officials said.

“Staff will complete the first room clean as they have always done and LightStrike will be the final step in the disinfection process,” said Amy Yaley, hospital spokesperson, in an email.

“Even with the best liquid chemical disinfection efforts, harmful germs can remain on surfaces that could be transmitted by hand,” she added.

“LightStrike will offer that added layer of protection for our patients and employees.”

Employee training for LightStrike use is complete, Yaley said, and it will be used regularly in the ambulatory care unit (ACU) and intensive care unit (ICU).

“We will expand to additional areas in the coming weeks,” she said.

It can be used for disinfecting patient rooms, isolation rooms, operating rooms, the emergency department, restrooms and radiology.

The robot deactivates Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, on surfaces in two minutes, officials said, citing 45 peer-reviewed studies.

“Excellent health care is our top priority and ensuring that people visiting our health care facilities are entering the best possible environment is part of our commitment to them,” said Nichole Beal, environmental services manager at Jefferson Healthcare.

“We want people to come in and seek treatment, and providing them with the cleanest facility possible is an important step in making them feel comfortable,” she added.

With the world’s focus on preventing the spread of COVID-19 and recognizing that superbugs are becoming increasingly resistant to cleaning chemicals, antibiotics and even some hand sanitizers, healthcare facilities are turning to new technology to enhance their cleaning protocols, officials said.

Microorganisms that can cause infections, such as Clostridium difficile (C. diff), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE), often dwell on high-touch surfaces in healthcare facilities.

Manufactured by Xenex Disinfection Services, LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots use pulsed xenon to create intense bursts of broad-spectrum UV light to destroy bacteria and viruses on surfaces.

“The UV disinfection robot works quickly and does not require warm-up or cool-down time, so we are able to disinfect dozens of rooms per day,” according to the release.

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