At Sharp Grossmont Hospital, humans and robots work side-by-side in the fight against infectious disease. In April 2020, the hospital acquired two Xenex LightStrike™ Germ-Zapping™ Robots, which environmental services staff use to thoroughly clean and disinfect surfaces throughout the hospital.
Also used at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, Sharp Coronado Hospital and Sharp Memorial Hospital, the 3-foot-tall robots offer an extra line of defense against potentially dangerous bacteria, viruses and other pathogens commonly found in health care settings. Across Sharp HealthCare, they have been used to disinfect patient rooms, operating rooms, emergency rooms and lobbies.
In clinical studies, they were found to be seven times more effective than traditional cleaning methods. Moreover, hospitals nationwide who use the robots have reported a greater than 50% reduction in infection rates of various pathogens, such as Clostridioides difficile (C. diff), which causes colitis, or inflammation of the large intestine, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterium associated with sepsis, a type of severe blood infection.
“Maintaining and ensuring the cleanest environment that is free from dangerous pathogens is paramount for the safety and health of our patients and staff, especially during these pandemic times,” says Valerie Herzog, infection prevention manager at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. “The disinfection technology of these robots enhances the effectiveness of our infection prevention program. Coupled with traditional manual cleaning by our environmental services staff, we can be assured that our hospital exceeds the standards of care for environmental hygiene.”
Xenex’s robots use ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy germs. The robots emit UV-C light, which is absorbed by the germs, altering their DNA and killing them.
After an environmental services team member manually cleans an area, such as a patient room, the robot then takes over. Staff wheel the robot into the room, where it emits quick pulses of the bright UV light throughout the room to disinfect it. According to Herzog, it takes approximately 15 minutes for the robot to disinfect a patient room. The robots complement the cleaning protocols already in place at the hospital.
“The ‘zapping’ process does not replace any of our manual cleaning processes,” says Herzog. “Rather, it is an additional final step to enhance our environmental cleanliness for the health and safety of our patients.”
Watch the video above to see the LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots in action.