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Southern Arizona VA Health Care System

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Futuristic robots at Tucson VA zapping germs

Xenex LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots in the hallway of the Tucson VA

The Xenex LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots, which harness the power of a xenon lamp to create an intense germicidal ultraviolet light that kills germs that cause most hospital acquired infections.

By Luke Johnson, Southern Arizona VA Health Care System Public Affairs
Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Tucson VA’s newest staff members are not quite what our Veterans would expect to see around the hospital, however they are playing an important role in keeping Veterans and staff safe from the onslaught of hospital borne infections and diseases.

The Tucson VA’s main campus recently received the Xenex LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots, which harness the power of a xenon lamp to create an intense germicidal ultraviolet light that kills germs that cause most hospital acquired infections. The portable room disinfection system is effective against even the most dangerous superbugs and multi-drug resistant organisms (MDRO), including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile (C. diff), VRE, norovirus and influenza.  Additionally, the Xenex Germ-Zapping Robot has been proven effective against both the Ebola virus and Anthrax, and can be incorporated into a hospital’s disease containment and biodefense strategy.

“Right now, this technology is very new for us at the facility, and we are working on a plan with infection control to track a reduction of hospital acquired infections after using these machines to clean rooms in certain areas of the facility,” said Donald Wilkerson, Tucson VA Assistant Environmental Manager. “This new technology is being used at other hospitals and VAs, from the studies this has shown to reduce hospital acquired infections.”

To date, several peer studies have shown the effectiveness of the of pulsed xenon UV in reducing pathogens from the environment and reported a decrease in patient infection rates when the pulsed xenon UV technology was used.

“We want our Veterans and staff to know that these new machines are safe and the light emitted from the machines is harmless. Most importantly, we will do whatever it takes to ensure that we have a germ free and clean facility and these new machines will help us accomplish that,” said Wilkerson.

Although all hospital rooms are thoroughly cleaned by hospital staff wearing proper protection equipment and using cleaning chemicals, harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi can still linger in some areas, especially those human hands can't reach. As an additional patient safety measure, the Xenex robot can then disinfect a room between 4 to 8 minutes.

“We recently used the machines in building 30 due to a recent flu outbreak, and we were able to clean every patient room, which hopefully helped stopped the spread of the flu within the Southwestern Blind Rehabilitation Center,” said Wilkerson.

Operated by the hospital's EMS team, they are brought into a room after traditional cleaning has taken place to destroy microscopic germs and bacteria that may be still lurking on high touch surfaces and hard to reach surfaces, After the room has been terminally cleaned.

“Having these machines will help us provide Veteran centered care as it will help us maintain a very clean hospital, which will help reduce infection rates in both Veterans and staff. We want our hospital to be a place where Veteran can quickly heal, so they can do the things they want to in life,” said Wilkerson.

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