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Germ Fighting Robots At Local Hospital

XENEXFlashNORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB) — With the flu making headlines recently, one local hospital is using robots to protect patients and keep them healthy.

You’ve probably seen the commercial… a doctor from Cooley Dickinson Hospital inside what looks like the ER, talking about their latest high-tech gadget.

“This is Xenex, our secret weapon against infection,” says Dr. Joanne Levin. At this point, the robot begins beeping back at her as if in response. In reality, the Xenex machine doesn’t really ‘talk’, and it’s not such a secret anymore. The hospital has had a trio of them for about 2 years, and while they look fairly harmless – to germs they’re more like the terminator.

“This machine has been an incredible help to us to lower hospital acquired infections,” said Linda Rilley of Cooley Dickinson. “It helps keep both our patients and our staff protected from infections.”

A tall order for a machine that looks more like a squat floor buffer. But once it’s rolled into an empty room and turned on, it spells disaster for the microscopic world – shooting out deadly ultra violet light that kills just about everything. Taking about 12 minutes to sanitize a typical hospital room, this robot not only disinfects surfaces but also the air.

That’s not to say it takes the place of its human counterparts. People are still needed to clean hospital rooms, but Xenex adds yet another level… the ultimate level.. of protection from infection. That includes zapping the flu bug and the other big 3 hospital born agents.

“When we brought in this machine we actually saw a dramatic decrease in infections that were acquired from the hospital environment,” explained Dr. Levin. “We saw a 53% decrease in C. difficile infections and also significant in hospital associated MRSA as well as VRE.”

Cooley Dickinson is one of only a few hospitals in all of New England to use the UV robots. And while they are pricey… about $80,000 a unit… in the long run, the cost is well worth it.

“We estimate that we saved several hundred thousand dollars minimum based on reduced hospital acquired infections,” said Rilley.

The Xenex robots have proved to be so successful at Cooley Dickinson that the American Journal of Infection Control is publishing an article about the hospital later this year.

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