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South County Hospital welcomes robot to fight hospital-associated infections

South County Hospital has added an extra layer of protection against hospital-associated infections by welcoming its newest staff member -- a robot. (WJAR)

South County Hospital has added an extra layer of protection against hospital-associated infections by welcoming its newest staff member -- a robot.

"Surface disinfection to us is really important," said Lee Ann Quinn, the hospital’s director of infection prevention.

The mission is to help eliminate the spread of bacteria and viruses.

But in testing surfaces in the hospital, they found they could do a better job.

"So, we were up to 91 percent germ free,” said Quinn, noting that she doesn’t think that number is good enough.

"It's a human process,” Steve Cote, manager of Environmental Services at the hospital, said. “There's room for error, there's room for deficiencies in chemicals."

The hospital looked for something that would enhance the work done by housekeeping. They came up with an ultraviolet light disinfecting system, which is known as the Rapid Disinfector.

"The U-V disinfecting machine takes disinfecting rooms to the next level after the housekeepers have cleaned the room," said Cote.

The ultraviolet light disinfection system features a portable robot and four sensors that are operated wirelessly.

First, all cabinets are opened and small objects, including phones and remotes, are exposed. Then, the door is closed. By remote, the ultraviolet light does its job of zapping germs.

While it’s not 100 percent, it's close

"I think it's as close to 100 percent as we can get," said Cote.

The U-V robot is currently being used in high-risk areas of the hospital, such as operating rooms, the C-section suites, the endoscopy area, as well as the cath lab and isolation patient rooms upon discharge.

In addition, in the hospital cafeteria, there's a small U-V box to help ensure all small electronic devices, cell phones and tablets are germ free.

It’s all done in just under a minute and is open for use by hospital staff and visitors.

South County is one of only two hospitals in the Rhode Island using a U-V light disinfection system in conjunction with its manual cleaning process. The other is The Miriam Hospital in Providence.

Learn more here.

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