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Mastering microbes in the healthcare setting

by Sean Ruck , Contributing Editor
Two of the top priorities for hospitals and outpatient healthcare facilities are patient outcomes and staff safety. However, harmful — and all too prevalent — microbes such as MRSA and C. diff make it challenging for medical facilities to protect their patients and staff from cross contamination. In these facilities, every surface can be a breeding ground for germs and bacteria, making it no easy feat to maintain sanitary conditions and minimize the risk of infection.

Consider that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that every year, two million hospital patients contract a healthcare-associated infection, resulting in an estimated cost of $45 billion annually and leading to 100,000 patient deaths. Those are sobering statistics.

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While a variety of antimicrobials are routinely employed in healthcare settings, these technologies utilize heavy metals, silver, triclosan or other leaching chemistries that emit low doses of toxins. In addition, once the supply of chemicals is depleted, efficacy against any microbes present diminishes.

Recognizing that there was a need for an antimicrobial that would provide protection against microbes without reliance on leaching technologies, tile industry veteran Curt Rapp, founder and CEO of The Tile Doctor, set out to find a new solution to the microbe challenge.

In 2008, Rapp learned about an antimicrobial technology being effectively used in a different industry. He reasoned that the technology could also work to prohibit microbial growth on hard surfaces such as tiles and natural stone. He partnered with seasoned tile industry expert Silver Cornia to dig a little deeper, and realized he was on to something. The team worked on perfecting the application of the antimicrobial for hard surfaces and, in 2009, received regulatory approvals for international distribution of their product, Tile Doctor Shield. In 2018, The Tile Doctor was awarded a patent to protect the unique application process.

In contrast to a leaching technology, in which the cell membranes of microbes are poisoned, Tile Doctor Shield (The Shield) provides a mechanical barrier of antimicrobial protection. Upon direct contact with surfaces treated with the antimicrobial, the cell membranes of microbes are physically “speared” (ruptured). The modified surface becomes inhospitable to a broad spectrum of bacteria, algae and fungi. No chemical remains to be consumed by microbes — or by humans.
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