GREENSBORO — To help protect patients and staff from coronavirus, Cone Health is using ultraviolet light and robots to frequently disinfect facilities.
In a recent test at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, the light from Xenex devices killed COVID-19 viruses in two minutes, according to a news release from Cone Health, which has 10 Xenex machines and five similar Tru-D devices.
“As we move to resuming more surgeries, we are sanitizing areas around the clock,” Joshua Andrews, executive director of environmental services at Cone Health, said Thursday.
Cone Health is also using this technology to disinfect N95 masks, which can go through the process up to five times, according to Doug Allred, spokesman for Cone Health.
The technology works this way: Once staff cleans a room, they send in a machine that will shine an intense form of ultraviolet light. No one can be in the room while the devices are in use.
“The LightStrike robots have been on the frontlines of COVID-19 response with hospitals redeploying their robots and purchasing new robots to lower the environmental risk in ERs, screening zones and critical care areas,” a representative from Xenex said in an email Thursday.
Other health systems across the country are also using the LightStrike robots to disinfect N95 masks to preserve short supplies.
“To make sure that was safe, Xenex sent exposed masks to 3M for testing. We know that the LightStrike robot did not damage those masks after 10 exposures,” the Xenex representative said. “We also wanted to make absolutely certain that the LightStrike robot was effective on the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19), so we tested against the actual virus at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute. The Texas Biomed researchers conducted the testing and found the robot was able to achieve a greater than 99.99% reduction in the virus on both glass slides and N95 mask material.”
Cone Health said it has increased the use of ultraviolet machines by nearly 50% during the pandemic by disinfecting all hospital clinic areas, staff lounges, on-call rooms, waiting areas, and public restrooms.
Ultraviolet light has traditionally been used at Moses Cone Day Surgery and after patients are discharged from rooms in which they were treated for highly contagious diseases such as COVID-19.
“Our environmental services staff manually clean and disinfect using the latest techniques and guidance. They cap off their work with a UV robot as an extra layer of safety,” Andrews said. “We want people to be safe coming into a hospital. This is one way we do that.”