Director of Quality Cathy Jaco, left, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jorge F. Gonzalez pose with 'Tru-D,' a new medical 'robot' used to disinfect rooms. The device, shown closed, consists of light tubes that give off ultraviolet light to kill microbes, viruses and spores that can cause postoperative infections.
Duane Jahns prepares Tuesday to irradiate a patient room at Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center, with the help of Tru-D SmartUVC, a robot designed to shine ultraviolet light into all recesses of a room to sterilize any remaining microbes, viruses and spores that could cause infection.
Duane Jahns, supervisor of Environmental Services, inputs a cleaning period onto the remote iPad that runs Tru-D SmartUVC, a robot that cleans rooms with ultraviolet light. A plastic chain attached to the doorway with magnets warns passersby to stay out of the room during the cleaning.
Tru-D SmartUVC shines ultraviolet light around a patient room at Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center on Tuesday. Seen here through a nurse's observation window, the robot can put out enough radiation to cause a first-degree sunburn, said Dr. Jorge F. Gonzalez, chief medical officer, who helped the hospital negotiate for three units at $87,500 each.
Dr. Jorge F. Gonzalez, chief medical officer for Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center, watches a Tru-D Smart UVC unit disinfect Room 2834 on Tuesday afternoon, in preparation for a new patient. The ultraviolet-light robot helps the hospital prevent infections by providing an extra level of cleansing, he said.
Duane Jahns packs up a Tru-D SmartUVC robot unit Tuesday afternoon, in preparation to clean yet another room at Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center. As supervisor for Environmental Services, he said the robots have helped provide an extra level of disinfection for rooms at the hospital.
SEBRING — On Tuesday, “Trudy” helped Duane Jahns clean Room 2834 at Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center without bleach, soap, bucket, mop or scrub pad.
Instead, Jahns used an iPad. “Trudy,” a Tru-D SmartUVC robot, disinfected the isolation room using ultraviolet light, politely warning occupants in a computer-generated female voice to vacate the room during the process.
“We leave the windows open because it helps,” said Jahns, supervisor with Environmental Services.
Dr. Jorge F. Gonzalez, vice president of Medical Affairs and chief medical officer, said the hospital just acquired three units — two for the Sebring facility and one for Lake Placid — before the beginning of the year. The robots are among approximately six within the entire Adventist Health Care system at this time, said Cathy Jaco, director of Quality for Florida Hospital Heartland.
Gonzalez said the company looked at the hospital’s operation and turnaround times, gave multiple presentations on the technology to all departments and even negotiated prices down from $100,000 per unit to $87,500.
“I was impressed,” Gonzalez said. “They worked with us to get the right amount of equipment for our size and (to) cover our campuses.”
The rolling unit, standing approximately 5 ½ feet, uses tubes arranged in a cylinder to shine disinfecting light into every corner and crack of the room. The light kills the DNA of microbes, viruses and spores, depending on how long Tru-D stays in the room, Jaco said. Diseases can’t reproduce and the hospital sees fewer infections.
The hospital still does “terminal cleaning,” Jaco said, for each room between patient stays. That means staff takes all fabrics from the room — bedding and curtains — for cleaning and then scrubs every surface with Clorox and other cleansers, depending on what infections a patient had, if any. Tru-D is a supplement, Jaco said.
However, Gonzalez said, they have seen fewer bacterial and viral infections as a result, both locally and at sister hospitals.
In 2014 and 2015, combined, Florida Hospital locally had eight cases of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Jaco said. This year, the hospital has had none, Jaco said, and there have been no surgical site infections for hysterectomy or colon surgeries: Two that have high risk.
Jaco said the robots help clean intensive care wards, the on-site pharmacy, operating rooms and catheterization labs. They can even help disinfect offices, when employees are carrying around colds, she said.
Tru-D assigns a representative to work with the hospital who can help them pull down data on how often and where the robot is used, Jaco said. If there is an infection, administration can backtrack where it may have been contracted.
Gonzalez said most of the infections come into the hospital from the community, so he and Jaco hope to reinforce and encourage the hospital’s “clean hands” practices for staff and visitors in the coming month.
“You don’t want people to assume we’re full of infections, but hospitals are where sick people are,” Jaco said. “We’re going to pull out all the stops to reduce it.”
On Tuesday, Jahns had to step out of the room and place a yellow chain barrier across the closed doorway to prevent anyone from entering the room, but he left the windows open, including an observation window near the door of the room.
When asked if he needed to draw the shades on the observation window, he said the light wouldn’t penetrate the glass.
Gonzalez said people wouldn’t want to stand in the room with it. They’d get a first-degree sunburn. It reaches where it should to help reduce infections. It’s not zero yet, Gonzalez said, but that’s their goal.
“It extends our mission: To extend the healing ministry of Christ,” Gonzalez said. “This is the right thing to do.”