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Jamestown Regional Medical Center welcomes R.O.S.I.E., the germ zapping robot

D. Webster

Superbugs like MRSA, C.diff and other antibiotic resistant germs make people sick every year when they visit the place they rely on to keep them healthy - their local hospitals.

"75,000 of those yearly are fatal," said Brandon Bray, account manager for Xenex Disinfection Services.

"Which is about equivalent to, if you added up breast cancer, AIDS and car accidents. It's the same as hospital acquired infections, but people just don't talk about it," said Leah Hansen, Xenex associate business development manager.

Xenex has developed a robot that can kill germs with a powerful xenon ultraviolet light that pulses and destroys microscopic pathogens that may be left on hospital surfaces, even after deep cleaning sessions by hospital staff. Bray says some superbugs can even stay alive on surfaces as long as six months.

"It's the next step in helping keep patients and their families safe, and not only that - but hospital staff as well."

Hospitals in Fargo and Minot have already acquired these germ-zapping robots, and now Jamestown Regional Medical Center has one of their own. A community-wide "name the robot" contest was held to raise awareness for the robot, and more than 200 children from Jamestown area schools helped to come up with the name ROSIE - Robot Offering Safe Ideal Environment. ROSIE enters patient rooms, operating rooms, conference rooms and even waiting rooms to disinfect the area in as little as five minutes. 

Dane Grebel is Environmental Services Manager at JRMC. He says the hospital has been interested in this type of technology for a while, but this model seemed to be the perfect fit.

"Their technology is a little different than some of the other companies we had trialed, and it just seemed to really fit in well with what we want to do as a facility, and for us to be the best place in the country to receive health care - this technology helps propel us to that goal."

Grebel says this technology offers patients and employees alike an extra layer of protection from hospital acquired infections.

"Typically, when this machine is used, we're using it during terminal cleaning - so someone's discharged, or at the end of the day in the OR, the last thing after you totally physically go through and clean it then we're running the machine to make sure we got everything. But in the OR, between cases, I mean literally they might have ten to fifteen minutes between cases - so a lot of the times our OR technicians are getting the room prepared and ready for the next case. So if they have an extra three minutes and we can build this into the OR schedule, three minutes can literally help save lives."

JRMC's ROSIE was paid for by community fundraising - each LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robot costs about $100,000. Because each surgical site infection can cost a hospital anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000, JRMC Foundation Director Lisa Jackson says the robot will quickly pay for itself. 

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