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3 Robots Making MN Hospital Squeaky Clean Via UV Rays

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(credit: CBS) Angela Davis
Angela Davis joined the station in 2006. Angela co-anchors the Sund...
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EDINA, Minn. (WCCO) – Fairview Southdale in Edina is embracing technology and putting a team of robots to work inside patients’ rooms.

The robots eliminate hard-to-kill germs and viruses that can linger in a room, even after it’s been cleaned, and tests show they’re effective in reducing the number of infections that people get in hospitals.

The Centers for Disease Control said one out of 20 hospital patients contract what’s called a “healthcare associated infection.” These robots have reduced infections 50 to 90 percent in some cases.

The new robots – at $80,000 apiece – should improve those numbers. Though the new procedure is already in use at 100 hospitals nationwide, Fairview Southdale is one of the first places in Minnesota to start using the machines.

They dispense a powerful ultraviolet-light – 25,000 times more powerful than the sun – that destroys harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi on every surface in the room — even in the air.

It’s does what humans and disinfectants can’t.

“They turn it on and it pushes ultraviolet light on every surface,” infection specialist and registered nurse Dawn Twenge said.

The surfaces are sterile after 10 minutes.

“Influenza can live up to three days on an inanimate object, so with this machine coming in, if the person before you had the flu, you don’t have to worry about it when you come in as a patient,” Twenge said.

The system is also effective against norovirus and staph bacteria.

“It will hit every area of the room,” Director of Environmental Services Courtney Nelson said. “It will hit the ceiling, hit the walls, every surface.”

Using the robots does require caution as people cannot be in the room while operating.

“We have standards in place,” Nelson said. “Signs that are up so people don’t enter the room. Plus they’re motion detectors on the machine, so the moment the doors open, the machine will shut off.”

Fairview Southdale will start using the robots on Oct. 9 in patients’ rooms and bathrooms, operating rooms, and staff locker rooms.

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