Mercy Medical Center recently became the first health care facility in Ohio’s Stark County to disinfect hospital surfaces using robots that safely emit germicidal ultraviolet (UVC) rays more intense than sunlight to destroy microorganisms, even in shadowed areas. The hospital now uses two Xenex LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots primarily in the intensive care unit (ICU), 5 Main, operating rooms, cardiac surgery, and cardiac catheterization labs.

This technology features Full Spectrum™ pulsed xenon UVC light (not mercury bulbs) to penetrate the cell wall of microorganisms, quickly destroying bacteria, viruses, fungi, and bacterial spores without chemical residue or fumes. This portable disinfection system is effective against pathogens, including:

  • Clostridium difficile (C.diff), which can live on surfaces for four to six months and is particularly hard to eliminate
  • Norovirus
  • Influenza
  • Ebola
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

The hospital also purchased the LightStrike Disinfection Pod, a portable disinfection containment unit that can rapidly disinfect high-touch mobile equipment like wheelchairs, computer workstations, and IV poles.

Barbara Yingling, RN, BSN, MAed, vice president and chief nursing officer, says safety of patients, families, staff, and employees was a major factor in the decision to purchase the robots.

“Hospital-acquired and surgical site infections are devastating and costly,” says Yingling. “Given the fact some superbugs can live on surfaces for hours to months and are becoming more resistant to antibiotics, it’s critical we implement the most effective system available to destroy them before they cause harm. The Xenex system is used in hundreds of health care facilities around the world, and studies show the robots can reduce infection rates by more than 70 percent.”

According to Paul Hiltz, Mercy’s interim CEO, the Germ-Zapping Robots are part of Mercy’s ongoing efforts to take patient safety to higher levels.

“Over the past two years, Mercy has made many noteworthy achievements in preventing infections, problems with surgery, errors, common safety problems, and more,” Hiltz says. “The Leapfrog Group, a national leader and advocate in hospital transparency, validated our efforts last fall and again this spring, awarding us Canton’s only B in the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade. While we are proud of that award, we recognize there is always more we can and must do to ensure safety for everyone at Mercy.”