Sodexo Healthcare has launched Xenex Germ-Zapping Robots™, an innovative new ultraviolet disinfection system that provides increased protection against the spread of healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) caused by pathogens such as MRSA.

Sodexo and the infection control team at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Queen’s Hospital, have introduced two Xenex LightStrike™ room disinfection devices to supplement chemical cleaning on site. This follows a successful trial, conducted in real-world circumstances, which showed that combined manual cleaning and Xenex disinfection produced an average bacterial reduction of 91%, compared to a 61% reduction with manual cleaning alone and 78% reduction with Xenex-only.

The devices have been named “Rosie” and “Mavis”, in honour of two key members of the Trust’s infection prevention and control team and Sodexo cleaning teams who were involved in the clinical trial.

The term HCAI covers a wide range of infections which can develop either as a direct result of healthcare interventions (such as medical or surgical treatment), or from being in contact with a healthcare setting. They pose a serious risk to patients, staff and visitors and can incur significant costs for the NHS. As a result, infection prevention and control is a key priority in UK hospitals.

The Xenex robot pulses a xenon lamp to create an intense germicidal UV light that quickly disinfects surfaces such as bedrails, tray tables, bathroom handrails and toilet seats. The Full Spectrum™ light penetrates the cell walls of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, mould, fungus and spores.  Their DNA is instantly fused so that they are unable to reproduce or mutate, effectively killing them on surfaces and in the air without contact or chemicals. The Xenex technology has been tested and proven using independent lab verification on the most common, and the most dangerous and difficult-to-treat microorganisms, including Clostridium difficile (C.diff), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), norovirus and the Ebola virus.

Xenex Germ-Zapping Robots have been used by Sodexo and hospital environmental services teams in U.S. healthcare facilities since 2010, where xenon UV disinfection has become part of the regular hospital cleaning protocol. Hospitals using Xenex robots in the U.S. have reported, in peer-reviewed studies, 50-100% decreases in their infection rates.

During the trial at Queen’s Hospital, the levels of bacteria present in a real patient room following cleaning with traditional manual chemical-based methods were compared with cleaning with the Xenex device and finally also with a combination of both methods. The trial also assessed the ease of use of the Xenex robot for Sodexo and Trust staff and whether there was any disruption for staff or patients. Cleaning staff were enthusiastic about using the Xenex devices and were willing to make adjustments to their existing schedules to accommodate their use. Patients were curious and supportive because of the safety benefits of using the device.

The Trust and Sodexo have jointly invested in the two Xenex robots and have created a protocol which will maximise their use, targeting the rooms and areas where patients are most at risk of infection. The Xenex system is not intended to be a substitute for chemical cleaning, rather an additional layer of protection. Another significant advantage of the system is its speed, taking less than 15 minutes to operate in a standard-size room.

Nadeem Moghal, Medical Director at the Trust, said; “The safety and wellbeing of our patients is our first priority so anything we can do to reduce the risk of infection is great for our hospitals.

“Colleagues from departments across the hospital worked well together and we were really pleased with the results of the trial.”

James Taylor, CEO Healthcare, Sodexo UK and Ireland said; “Sodexo is committed to using innovation to offer a better service to patients and to develop more strategic partnership with its clients. The introduction of Xenex is a great example of this.”

Mark Stibich, co-founder & Chief Scientific Officer, Xenex said; “The Trust and Sodexo have made a commitment to patient safety by investing in technology that destroys the pathogens that can cause infections. Studies in the U.S. have shown that the more the robots are utilized, the greater the infection rate reduction will be and we are looking forward to seeing similar results here in the UK.”

Members of the Sodexo cleaning team at Queen’s Hospital are being trained to use the Xenex disinfection robots, with two team members already having spent time in the U.S. to be trained as Xenex certified technicians.

Sodexo is communicating the benefits of the Xenex technology to its other NHS clients and is hoping to introduce more devices into UK hospitals soon.

Sodexo recently agreed a five year extension to its contract with the Trust, which it has worked with for 10 years and delivers a range of technical and soft FM services, including patient dining, hostess, portering, waste management, cleaning, retail, reception, switchboard, car parking, security, estates management and grounds maintenance. As part of the new contract, which officially starts on 16 October 2016, Sodexo is bringing in a whole range of service improvements and innovations, with a focus on enhancing the patient experience and releasing clinical time to care.

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