NEW ORLEANS — Hospitals waging a ferocious battle against deadly, drug resistant bacteria might have found a solution in a robot, one that pulses ultraviolet light one-and-a-half times per second.
The Centers for Disease Control have alerted hospitals across the country that these so-called "nightmare bacteria" are killers.
“These new kinds of bacteria, they are not only antibiotic resistant, but they can teach other bacteria how to be resistant in the same way they are, rendering many of our antibiotics useless,” Steve Sullivan said.
That's a special problem for the Louisiana Continuing Care Hospital on the 7th floor of West Jefferson Medical Center because it serves medically complex patients with compromised immune systems making them particularly vulnerable to infection, Sullivan said.
These dangerous bacteria can be on every surface in a patient's room.
“We know that when patient rooms are cleaned, about 50 percent of the surfaces in the rooms are still contaminated,” said Rachel Sparks, technical director with Xenex.
People at West Jefferson said research shows that high touch surfaces like a bedside table or a bed rail contain enough infections to threaten the next patient moved into the room. But they said the super bug-zapping robot can get rid of all that infection and save lives.
“You know we clean the room as best we can,” Sparks said. “But we’re just humans!”
Sparks said the light pulsing from the robot kills the bacteria that the cleaning staff can't see.
“It pulses a UV light, which is a bright blue light that flashes,” Sparks said. “And that UV actually kills bacteria and viruses in five minutes or less. It can rid a room of really dangerous super bugs as we know them to be called, like CDIF or MRSA.”
Since the UV light can irritate eyes people have to stay out of the room when it is used.
The Louisiana Continuing Care Hospital is the first in Louisiana to use the $82,000 UV-shooting robot to kill bacteria and is one of 100 hospitals in the nation to use one, as well.