Germ-zapping robot helps Johnson City hospital avoid infections

Germ-zapping robot helps Johnson City hospital avoid infections

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By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor

JOHNSON CITY (WATE) - At Johnson City Medical Center, it takes about 45 minutes for each patient room to be as clean as possible. 30 minutes for the human housekeeper, 15 minutes for another little device.

It's a portable germ-zapping robot nicknamed Gizmo - one of two the hospital recently purchased.

It's designed to destroy dangerous bugs that thrive on furniture, equipment, mattresses and hard to reach spots.

Hospital housecleaning staff are in charge of setting up the robot after they tackle the room the traditional way.

It's a quick process. Sarina Buchanan hits the start button, double-checks, then gets out within 15 seconds, making sure to close the door behind her.

That's because as the robot begins operation, it emits pulses of UVC light, said to be 25,000 times more powerful than the sun.

"The UVC disinfection system breaks down the germ DNA so it makes them where they cannot replicate; it kills the germs," said Jamie Swift, the corporate director of infection prevention at the hospital.

The hospital says the device, made by Xenex Healthcare Systems, destroys the most dangerous pathogens including norovirus, c-diff, which can make people incredibly sick, and MRSA without leaving chemical residue behind.

Sensors are placed inside and outside the room that will shut down the robot if someone walks in during the cleaning system.

The strong ultraviolet rays can damage your eyes.

When the process was complete, Sarina went back in to make sure the robot was turned off and the plug was pulled before taking it on to another room before the next patient arrives.

Each robot costs $90,000 and the hospital says that's really a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of hospital acquired infections.

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