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Hospital cleaning goes high tech

Cleaning robot

Before Bon Secours surgeons perform the most technologically advanced procedures in an operating room, a state-of-the-science robot operates to make sure conditions are pristine.

Recently, Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital acquired its second Tru-D Smart UVC robot. (St. Francis Medical Center and Memorial Regional Medical Center received their first.) Foundation funds were used to purchase the machines.

The robot, affectionately known as “Trudy” by staff, allows for easy and complete disinfection of virtually any environment including patient rooms, intensive care units and operating rooms – killing pathogens such as the most common health-care-associated infections Clostridium difficile (C. diff.), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and other bacteria that compromise patient outcomes.

In fact, decreasing hospital-acquired and surgical site infections served as the impetus for the arrival of the first Tru-D at St. Mary’s two years ago. Utilizing this type of equipment at Bon Secours facilities is vital for the safety of patients, says Khiet Trinh, M.D., chief medical officer at St. Mary’s.

"It is the right thing to do for our patients," he said. “Our patients deserve to have their surgeries at facilities that do their very best to reduce the risk of post-operative infections.”

After a hospital staff member cleans a room using traditional methods, Tru-D rolls into the center of the room to finish the job. Remotely operated by an iPad (a 15-second countdown alerts the operator to exit the room before the disinfection process), the robot’s Sensor360 technology uses the sight of eight calibrated sensors to scan an entire room and utilize the 360-degree image to calculate an accurately timed cycle, which ensures a consistent and thorough disinfection outcome.

Currently, Tru-D cleans patient discharge rooms at a doctor's or nurse’s request. The robot also disinfects all 27 of St. Mary’s operating rooms twice a week. A single treatment takes 30 minutes; a double treatment takes an hour.

"Depending on the type of multidrug-resistant organism, we change the dose to accommodate,” said Chad Basham, director of environmental services at St. Mary’s.

Overall, the implementation of Tru-D has been very positive.

“The collaboration between the operating room staff, clinicians and environmental services has been wonderful,” Trinh said. “It is a testament to Bon Secours putting our patients first.”

As one piece of a multi-level patient safety initiative, the arrival of Tru-D has decreased surgical-site infections by 50 percent. But that does not mean the work is finished.

“In health care, we can never reach a point where we’re finished growing or learning or bettering ourselves,” Basham said. “Tru-D is just one additional step we take with all the other measures in place to ensure patient safety. If Tru-D can prevent just one infection, it’s worth its weight in gold.”

For more information about other ways the Foundation supports the Bon Secours Richmond Health System, visit bsvaf.org.