Phoenix VA enlists Xenex Germ-Zapping Robots to enhance veteran safety

by Brianna Crandall — September 23, 2016 — The Phoenix Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care System is the first hospital in Arizona to deploy Xenex LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots to destroy deadly germs and bacteria lurking on hospital surfaces that can cause hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).

The portable room-disinfection system utilizes pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV) light and has been proven effective against dangerous superbugs and multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO), including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile (C. diff), VRE, norovirus and influenza, as well as both the Ebola virus and anthrax. The robot is designed to be easily incorporated into a facility’s disease containment and biodefense strategy.

Xenex Germ-Zapping Robots

Germ-Zapping Robots use pulsed xenon UV light to destroy deadly germs and bacteria lurking on hospital surfaces that can cause hospital-acquired infections (HAIs); these are now named Chief, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.

Environmentally friendly process

Pulsed xenon UV disinfection is an environmentally friendly technology and exceeds both Presidential Executive Orders and VA Directives regarding sustainability and green procurement, says the company.

Prior to implementing Xenex, the Phoenix VA used a mercury UV disinfection system (mercury is toxic, reminds Xenex) and as a result, the facility’s operating room (OR) experienced a degradation of materials, including the cracking and yellowing of plastics.  The materials damage associated with continuous mercury UV is a newly identified problem associated with mercury UV technology, and the Phoenix VA was among the first in the nation to identify this issue.

Effectiveness studies

To date, 20 peer-reviewed studies showing the effectiveness of pulsed xenon UV in reducing pathogens from the environment have been published, including eight studies that reported a decrease in patient infection rates; five environmental studies by VA researchers that found manual cleaning plus pulsed xenon UV light disinfection was far more effective than traditional cleaning methods at eliminating MRSA bacteria and was 23 percent faster when integrated into the room cleaning process; and multiple published outcome studies showing 50-100 percent reductions in HAI rates.

Cleaning process

The Xenex Germ-Zapping Robots are an adjunctive step in the hospital’s cleaning process. Operated by the hospital’s EVS team, they are brought into a room after traditional cleaning has taken place to destroy microscopic germs and bacteria that may be lurking on high-touch surfaces such as bed rails, tray tables, door knobs and remote controls.

The portable Xenex system is designed to disinfect a typical patient or procedure room in four- or five-minute cycles (depending on robot model) without warm-up or cool-down times. It can be used in any department and in any unit within a healthcare facility, including isolation rooms, operating rooms, general patient care rooms, contact precaution areas, emergency rooms, bathrooms and public spaces.

First in Arizona

In addition to being the first hospital in Arizona, the Phoenix VA is the first VA facility in the Southwest Health Care Network (VISN 18) to deploy this innovative, leading-edge patient safety technology.  The Phoenix VA joins 40 VA facilities and over 350 hospitals across the nation who have added the Xenex LightStrike robot to their disinfection arsenals.

During the implementation, as a tribute to the military, the Phoenix VA named its six LightStrike robots after the Commander-in-Chief and five sister services: Chief, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.