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Moses Cone’s germ-zapping robot helps to reduce infections

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Moses Cone Hospital is reducing hospital-acquired infections with the help of technology.

Along with ample signage about hand washing and the numerous antibacterial gel dispensers, the hospital also uses the help of a germ-zapping robot called the Xenex.

Since 2011, Moses Cone has added two more of the cleaning machines that are used as a final step in the cleaning process. Following disinfection from custodial services, the machine is used in operation rooms and after a patient is discharged from their room.

Director of Infection Prevention Melissa Morgan explains the machine works in two to three cycles, each about four minutes long. The machine emits a flashing UV light during that cycle, disinfecting surfaces within the room.

“Imagine being at a disco with a flashing light and what it does is it kills the organisms within that radiation range,” Morgan said.

Since January, Moses Cone has reduced the number of hospital acquired infections by about 50 percent.

Those common infections include MRSA, catheter-associated urinary tract infection, central line associated blood stream infections and surgical site infections.

Moses Cone has three Xenex machines total; Wesley Long, Annie Penn and Alamance Regional Medical Center each have one.

One hall within the hospital, 3 East, that deals with heart failure patients has had zero catheter-associated urinary tract infection for the last two years.

The national rate according the Centers for Disease Control of CAUTI is 16 infected patients a year.

Patient education is also a big part in reducing infections as well as limiting visitation for children under the age of 12 during influenza season.

“Children are often asystematic carriers of viruses and even though they may not have signs and symptoms of infection they could bring the infection in where your loved one is sick,” Morgan said.

Morgan admits that simply washing one's hands properly with soap and water remain the foundation of infection reduction and added technology allows them to better care for patients and staff.

"There's no charge to the patient or to the hospital, it is just because we think this technology is the best of the best and so we want to make sure that our patients have that protection," Morgan said.