‘Germ-Zapping’ Robot Comes to Sutter Medical Center

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SACRAMENTO -- People are seeing "the light" at Sacramento's Sutter Medical Center -- specifically the UV light of a new, "germ-zapping" robot.

"That intense ultraviolet light, when it sees a surface, it destroys the germs of bacteria that are unseen to the eye," Sonali Desai, a Xenex Disinfection Services representative, said Tuesday.

The Xenex Xhaiden I is the newest member of the hospital's Environmental Services department. Though it may look like R2D2, it's main function is to zap away germs like Ebola, MRSA and other bacteria too small to manually clean.

"C-diff is what we really look at. It is a spore, so the shell in that spore is a little bit hard," Environmental Services Director Debbie Sandberg said. "So we remove those as much as possible, and then the light comes in, and eradicates anything that we might have left in the room,"

The light has a 7-foot, mercury-free disinfection radius. So an average patient room at Sutter Medical will get three, 5-minute zap sessions from different angles to get rid of the germs from floor to ceiling.

Sutter Medical Center is the first hospital in Sacramento to get this technology, which has been proven to dramatically decrease surgical site infections rates.

"Knowing that Sutter is the first, joining the ranks of Mayo and UCLA, it's a win-win," Desai said.

Though extremely bright, looking at the light is not harmful to the eyes, as long as there is glass in between you and the robot. Hospital staff said one of the best things about the robot, is that it does not leave that traditional disinfectant smell.

"You'll smell ozone, a very low level, kind of like a fresh rain after a lightning storm. And a lot of our customers are happy and embrace this. This is the new smell of disinfection," Desai said.

"No, Not Clorox or Lysol," Sandberg laughed.

Sutter Medical has started to use the Xhaiden I in their pediatrics, bone marrow transplant, oncology, and operating rooms, making sure even the biggest germaphobes can be at ease.

"I think our hospital is already squeaky clean. I think this is just an addition to disinfecting the patient rooms and keeping our patients as safe as possible," Sanberg said.

The robot does not replace cleaning crews. It is run by certified staff as another cleaning tool.

Sutter Medical Center will collect data for one month to see the difference in infection rates with and without the robot.

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