Xenex Robot zaps germs to prevent infections at Alexandria hospital

Rachael Sparks, technical director of Xenex Disinfection Services, prepares ‘Miss Violet’ for a demonstration Thursday in Rapides Regional Medical Center. ‘Miss Violet’ is a robot that uses ultraviolet rays to kill germs. / Tia Owens-Powers/towens@thetowntalk.com

Nearly 300 people a day die from infections acquired while they were in the hospital.

Rapides Regional Medical Center’s new weapon to combat that is a 5-foot-2-inch super cleaner named Miss Violet. Miss Violet isn’t a maid, but a germ-zapping robot that kills pathogens humans can’t see.

“We all do our best job to keep our hospitals clean and disinfected,” said Rachael Sparks, technical director of Xenex Disinfection Services, the device’s manufacturer. “But we can’t see everything. Of course, we clean the rooms the best we can, but we know there are contaminants left behind. This removes contaminants so the room is as clean and safe as possible for the next patient.”

The disinfecting robot emits intense ultraviolet rays that are 25,000 times brighter than the sun. Those rays kill germs on high-touch, hard-to-reach surfaces in as little as a few minutes, penetrating their cell walls and fusing their DNA so they are unable to reproduce or mutate.

“Bacteria, mold, spores, fungus — all the things we worry about patients being exposed to,” Sparks said.

“Miss Violet is going to take our cleaning to a whole other level,” said Diane Fulton, chief nursing officer at RRMC. “Of course, the hospital does everything we can to prevent infections, but Miss Violet will ensure any bacteria left behind will be killed.”

Xenex says its robotic disinfecting is 20 times more effective than manual cleaning and can reduce infections by 50 percent or more. “The number of hospital-acquired infection deaths exceeds the number of automobile accident, breast cancer and HIV deaths combined,” Sparks said.

There are more than 300 such devices in operation in more than 200 hospitals. At RRMC, it will mainly be used in intensive care units. It takes 10-15 minutes to disinfect the typical patient room at RRMC.

Because of the intensity of the ultraviolet light, no one can be in the room while it is being disinfected. The light cannot pass through the glass doors of the room and a special sensor shuts the device down if those doors are accidentally opened.

Source: The Town Talk

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