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Published on November 19, 2012

Germ Robot Tested at Alamance Regional

A high tech ‘germ robot’ is being tested at Alamance Regional Medical Center. The hospital is part of a nine-hospital study to see if the machine can prevent hospital acquired infections through the use of UV light.

Alamance Regional began using the UV light in early November to help disinfect contact isolation rooms at the hospital. Rooms are cleaned with both the light and a traditional cleaning agent. Alamance Regional will use the light for two separate seven month periods as part of the study, which is funded by the Centers for Disease Control.

"For the past three years, hospital-acquired infection rates have been dropping at Alamance Regional," says Sara Wall, RN, Infection Preventionist, Alamance Regional. "This study will help us determine if UV light can help us obtain even lower infection rates."

The UV light destroys the ability of bacteria and viruses to replicate by damaging nucleic acid. The light is able to reach underneath beds and in stands, sinks and corners of open cabinets and drawers. Safe use of the light means that no one is in the room, and the light is activated by remote control. As an additional precaution, sensors are attached to the door of the room being sanitized by the UV light in order to turn off the machine if the door is opened. Environmental services staff members at Alamance Regional have received special training in use of the light.

The study looks at four specific pathogens that are known to persist in the hospital environment even when cleaning is done well: MRSA, VRE, C. difficile and Acinetobacter. Currently, patients with any of these four pathogens are placed in on contact precautions, and special cleaning procedures with bleach or an ammonium compound solution are used after the patient is discharged.

Other hospitals involved in the study include Duke University Hospital, North Carolina Memorial Hospital at UNC, Rex Healthcare, High Point Regional Hospital, Durham Regional Hospital, Duke Raleigh Hospital, Durham VA Medical Center and Chesapeake Regional Medical Center. Alamance Regional and the other participating hospitals are members of the Duke Infection Control Network.