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“Germs live everywhere,” says Thomas Meyer, MD, director of infectious diseases. “Patients in the hospital or undergoing surgery are at higher risk of getting ill when exposed to germs lingering on surfaces.”
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the influenza (flu) virus can live for up to 24 to 48 hours on hard surfaces. The coronavirus can live from a few hours to a few days. E. coli and salmonella may live for up to four hours on hard surfaces.
Hospitals, like IU Health Arnett, take germs very seriously. Environmental services (EVS) team members are highly trained in cleaning and disinfecting.
“The EVS team takes great pride in what they do,” says Ray Degner, director of environmental services. Meyer agrees and knows that some new space-age technology could help.
Arnett now has a new tool for disinfecting rooms; Surfacide’s Helios® UV-C Disinfection System is a robotic system — actually it is three robots — that simultaneously achieves low-level UV disinfection to kill vegetative forms of bacteria, some fungi and lipid viruses, providing supplemental disinfection to manual cleaning.
“We still need good environmental cleaning and careful hand washing in the hospital,” says Meyer. “The Helios gives our patients an extra level of protection against acquiring infections.”
The Helios arrived at the end of July. Twenty EVS team members are now trained using the new equipment. Since September they have averaged a clean of 400 spaces per month.
How it works
To disinfect a patient room, a Helios is placed at the foot of the bed, bathroom doorway and near the door to the room. All linens and trash can liners are removed. No one should be in the room and the door must be closed. The Helios will measure the room then go to work disinfecting the space. The room lights up with a blue glow and visions of Star Wars come to mind. The process takes about 20 minutes. Once complete an EVS team member goes into the room, hangs the curtains, makes the bed and places a liner in the trash can.
The Helios are on wheels and the three hook together, making the system manageable for one person to move.
“Ideally if you are servicing rooms near each other, you clean one then start the Helios while you clean the second room, then move the Helios into the second room and finish prepping the first room,” says Connie Sillery, lead housekeeper.
“The EVS team has really embraced using the Helios,” says Degner.
Arnett Hospital has three Helios systems. They have been in such demand that a set is permanently dedicated to the operating suites and the outpatient surgery center. Another set travels to patient rooms, the catheterization lab, interventional radiology — any space where airway intrusions may have taken place.
“We look at what the most important areas are each day,” says Degner. “We treat the rooms where patients were in isolation as a priority then schedule from there.”