MAYWOOD, Ill. – Hospitals are synonymous with cleanliness and now Loyola University Health System is the first academic medical center in Illinois to use futuristic robots as the final touch in room disinfection. The robots, nicknamed “Ralph” by the housekeeping staff at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital and “Little Joe” at Loyola University Medical Center, stand 3 feet high and make up the last step in room sanitation. A rotating telescopic head emits cidal ultraviolet (UV) rays for 15 minutes in closed, unoccupied rooms to systematically kill germs.
“Loyola is a world leader in infection control and now the addition of automated room disinfection reinforces our ongoing commitment to patient safety,” said Jorge Parada, MD, MPH, FACP, FIDSA, medical director, Infection Control Program, Loyola University Health System.
“Loyola is doing everything humanly possible to control disease and that includes robotics."
According to studies, the disinfection robots eliminate Clostridium difficile (C. diff) in less than four minutes and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) in less than two minutes. “The robots are used for further disinfection in the operating suites and patient rooms, including isolation, burn and transplant,” said Alex Tomich, DNP, RN, CIC, manager, infection prevention and control at Loyola. “Loyola takes very seriously its responsibility to protect patients, visitors and our hospital staff from infections and we are early adopters of proven technology as well as best practices."
The hospital housekeeping staff cleans the rooms and then uses the robots for additional sterilization. The pulsed UV light destroys viruses, bacteria and spores without human contact or chemicals.
Hospital infections are linked to approximately 100,000 deaths each year and add as much as $30 billion a year in medical costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Loyola is a crusader in the war on infectious disease. Loyola was the first university medical center to screen all hospital patients for MRSA and is in its fifth year of mandatory flu vaccination for employees, students, volunteers and vendors. Loyola also uses advanced laboratory technology to accurately identify 17 viral and three bacterial pathogens related to respiratory infections in about 60 minutes. Loyola is no stranger to robotics and currently uses telemedicine robots for surgery and in the emergency department to diagnose stroke patients.