Hospitals across Southwestern Pennsylvania are using a variety of cutting edge technology in the battle against COVID-19.
Trying to disinfect facilities and keep staff and patients safe is a top priority for administrators and some hospitals are trying brand new methods that employ different kinds of science and technology.
Monongahela Valley Hospital is using ultraviolet light to help kill the coronavirus.
In late December, Mon Valley Hospital introduced an advanced ultraviolet disinfection system. The UVDI-360 Room Sanitizer uses ultraviolet radiation (UV-C) technology to inactivate persistent and dangerous germs. The system’s creators said it destroys more than 35 health care-associated infection causing pathogens, including coronavirus and C. difficile, in 10 minutes.
“This system is designed to supplement our manual surface disinfection practices with EPA-registered disinfectants,” said Penny Wright, a nurse and Mon Valley Hospital’s director of infection prevention. “It provides 360 degrees of surface coverage to offer another layer of assurance that our patient rooms are germ-free.”
How does it work?
Once the hospital’s Environmental Services staff finish their manual cleaning, they place the sanitizer in a room and its ultraviolet lamps deliver a pre-programmed dose of UV-C light. That UV light destroys micro-organisms by inactivating their DNA. The hospital bought the new sanitizing system with federal CARES Act funds they obtained through the Washington County Commission.
“The investment in this technology is just another step that Monongahela Valley Hospital has taken to help ensure that our patients, visitors, employees and physicians are safe,” Wright said.
A recent study in Israel showed UV light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can quickly and effectively kill the human coronavirus. Future research will study whether it is also effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that has caused this pandemic.
The technology could be an inexpensive way to disinfect surfaces, ventilation systems and water systems in hospitals and industrial settings.
In Europe, disinfecting robots roam the halls of hospitals. The UVD Robot is a self-operating root armed eith UV-C light that kills viruses and bacteria on surfaces and in the air. In Croatia, hospital operating rooms show the existence of no micro-organisms after the robot disinfects them. Now, the robots are being used in COVID-19 wards there and in 60 other countries.
Washington Health System uses a combination of electrostatic sprayers and foggers to battle COVID-19 in hospital facilities.
“Washington Health System’s utilization of electrostatic sprayers as well as the Halo Fogger system achieves whole-room disinfection even in those hard-to-reach areas,” said Paul Easthon, director of Environmental Services/HHS Programs for Washington Health System. “By implementing these practices, cleaning times decrease resulting in increased productivity and greater patient care.”
The Halo Fogger is proven to kill SARS and Ebola, and the EPA also approved it for emergency use against COVID-19. The machine releases a vaporized hydrogen peroxide on a timer, which is more effective than just wiping down surfaces and in cleaning hard to reach areas. Electrostatic sprayers add a positive electrical charge to disinfectants as they are sprayed onto surfaces.
That charge helps the disinfectant to attract and adhere to surfaces.
St. Clair Hospital is the first hospital in Western Pennsylvania to install brand new technology called Nanowave Air, an advanced air filtration system. In studies at multiple National Institutes of Health (NIH) Biocontainment labs, Nanowave Air was proven effective at inactivating viruses and bacteria in fast-moving air.
“This is another proactive step in our never-ending process of doing everything we can to keep everyone safe,” said Charles DiBello, vicepresident of facilities and construction at St. Clair Hospital.
The first unit was placed in the Emergency Room waiting area and the hospital plans to add the units at the Village Square and Peters Township Outpatient Center waiting rooms.
“At present, we have 10 devices ready to go. Ultimately, we intend to expand the installations and provide this technology in other patient care areas,” DiBello said.
The system was developed by Dynamics, Inc., which was founded in 2007 by Carnegie Mellon graduate Jeff Mullen.
“Our teams really like to do the hard stuff and after we performed the first UV-C inactivation of COVID-19 in May, we knew we could deliver this device,” Mullen said. “We are now able to inactivate virus and bacteria in fast-moving air.”