By Drew Bollea

PLACERVILLE (CBS) – High-intensity light from a robot is being used to kill germs in a Placerville hospital — the height of flu season — and hospital staff says it’s having a positive impact.

There is something keeping an eye on patient and visitor health inside Marshall Medical Center.

“About the size of a little R2-D2 unit that you would see in Star Wars,” said Nina Deatherage, a nurse at Marshall Medical Center.

The robot’s name is flash. It cost about $100,000 and it’s being used to kill any germs it comes across.

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“It has a xenon bulb inside of it that produces pulsed UV light,” said Deatherage.

Once in a room, the robot is placed in three spots including the bathroom and either side of the bed.

“It starts killing everything that the light touches as far as any kind of bugs or pathogens of any sort that could cause infection,” said Deatherage.

Deatherage says their housekeeping staff does a great job, but hand cleaning only goes so far.

“This gives that extra added layer of protection that would kill any possible bug that is left behind that the light would touch,” said Deatherage.

The main target this winter is a devastating flu bug.

“A lot of times, the robot has been taken to the ER because we’ve been seeing a lot of flu cases come into the ER,” she explained.

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The Robot was added to the cleaning routine in an effort to eliminate infections contracted while at the hospital.

According to a 2015 Centers for Disease Control report, more than 720,000 infections happen each year in hospitals.  In 2016, more than 18,000 healthcare-associated infections were reported in California.

“Often times, pathogens are starting to become resistant to some types of cleaning chemicals,” said Deatherage.

Almost nothing gets by the robot flash.

The CDC says they’ve seen a 30% decrease in infections spread in hospitals. As for Marshall Medical Center, they’ve only had the robot for a couple months so it’s still too early to make any conclusions.


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