Xenex Robot Blast Microorganisms at Spencer Hospital

(SPENCER, IA) It's the first of its kind in Iowa. A Siouxland hospital now has a robot that protects hospital patients from some potentially deadly bugs. It's called the Xenex.

This machine bears resemblance to a very popular robot named R2D2. But her name is Violet and she's the newest disinfecting addition to Spencer Hospital.

"For years we've spent a long time perfecting our cleaning techniques using the best disinfectants we could purchase. Unfortunately there were still some microorganisms that can be left on surfaces that still can cause and infection in a patient," said DeeAnn Vaage, the Spencer Hospital Infection Control Nurse.

In fact, Vaage says even if several cleaning people scrubbed the room down it still wouldn't be enough but Violet - well, she gets the job done.

"It uses this xenon technology, this pulsed UVC light that can kill organisms at a certain spectrum of light. It actually disrupts the cell membrane and can kill those organisms," said Vaage.

Like the ones that cause yeast and staph infections. The Xenex destroys them.

"Once the crews have thoroughly cleaned this room, they'll bring the Xenex in - they'll place it on either side of the bed as well as the bathroom and run it for 5 minutes each time. All in all it takes 15 minutes to disinfect the entire room and the Xenex is 20 times more effective than standard cleaning.

The UV light works because these organisms haven't built immunity against it, which could happen if its used improperly.

"The organism might survive and develop immunity over time but since we're trained well and it's set for a minimum 5 minute cycle, it's not likely," said Todd Rominger, the Spencer Hospital Environmental Services Director.

Because the robot uses UV lights, it's not safe for people to be in the room when its running its cycle. It is equipped with motion detectors to sense movement to prevent accidental exposure.