Special report: Bye bye, bacteria

by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer | August 26, 2013
From the August 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Lancaster General Hospital in Lancaster, Penn. invested in Xenex machines in April of this year. Though the facility has never had a disease outbreak, Deb Hess, supervisor of epidemiology at the hospital, says she sees the three Xenex machines she purchased as a preventive measure. The media coverage of this year’s harsh flu season also encouraged the purchase.

“The Xenex enhances the cleaning procedures that we already have in place,” says Hess. “Now we can say, ‘not only do we have a clean room, but it’s now disinfected.’”

She says that’s comforting for patients and staff alike and gives the hospital an edge over local competition. The “flashiness” of the Xenex also helps bring attention to other elements of infection control, she says.

“Since we brought it in, we’ve had overwhelming success with the staff asking the appropriate questions, and even patients asking about it,” she says. “They’re asking questions, but there has been a lot of support.”

Bringing the machines to the team
The systems’ upfront cost is the largest barrier for many facilities; systems can cost up to $125,000, with replacement bulbs and service fees adding on to that price tag. And there’s not much of an opportunity to bargain shop — because the equipment is new, there aren’t many third-party options for service or replacement parts.

But once the initial cost is covered, operating the systems is simple. Hospitals can easily train the cleaning staff they already have on the basic safety functions and have the systems up and running quickly.

“I can do the training in a half hour,” says Scott Garrety, director of Environmental Services at Lancaster General. “You can actually learn the device in three minutes. The rest is science, the way you place it so that nobody walks in the room, and what to do if somebody does.”

The main risk of being around the machines is eye damage. The Xenex takes 15 minutes to totally disinfect a room, with three different device positions lasting five minutes each.

The Tru-D, a UVC disinfection system from Lumalier Corporation, uses UVC dose measuring technology that automatically adjusts to each room, so it does not have to be moved.

“Rooms vary in space, geometry and how reflective the wall coatings are,” says Chuck Dunn, president of Lumalier, which makes the Tru-D. “Tru-D reacts to those variables, by adjusting the cycle time to deliver the dose, and in doing so, we get a consistent outcome with each and every room we apply the device to.”

Potential customers concerned about the equipments’ safety may be comforted by STERIS Corporation’s offering, the Pathogon. It had efficacy testing preformed under EPA Good Laboratory Practice.

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