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News | Dec. 30, 2020

“Germ-zapping” robots have landed at NMCCL to combat COVID-19

“Germ-Zapping” robots have landed at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune. The robots, manufactured by Xenex Disinfection Services, are awaiting their start date at the facility.

“NMCCL was the fourth Navy hospital to acquire our robots this year,” said Melinda Hart, Director of Media Relations for Xenex. The robots are disinfection systems which use ultraviolet (UV) light to quickly destroy microscopic pathogens found in hospital settings that can cause infections.

According to Xenex representatives, the robots are used in more than 100 Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense facilities, including nine Navy hospitals.

“The LightStrike Robot is the only UV room disinfection technology proven to deactivate SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,” said Hart, “[The LightStrike Robot] achieved a 99.99% level of disinfection in two minutes.”

The robots are also effective at destroying bacteria and viruses such as MRSA, C. difficile, influenza, rhinovirus, and VRE.

“[Ultraviolet light] has been used for disinfection for decades,” says Hart but “What makes our robot unique is its utilization of a xenon lamp (not mercury bulbs) to create intense bursts of broad spectrum UV light.” Because the robots use pulsed xenon UV light there are no residual chemicals after disinfecting and it doesn’t damage materials or equipment.

“The Xenex LightStrike robots take the housekeeping at NMCCL to the next level of sanitation and disinfection,” said Lauren Settle, Quality Control Manager for the Housekeeping Department. “While our housekeepers do fantastic work…certain hard-to-kill viruses, bacterium, or spores may be left behind.”

The robots bring more than just their novel UV cleaning system to the Medical Center, they also come with names – Luke and Kennedy.

“We are hoping to have both Luke and Kennedy fully operational within the next few weeks,” said Settle, who explained the robots arrived pre-named by Xenex.

NMCCL purchased the robots in August; they are expected to be fully operational within the next few weeks. Representatives from Xenex are currently training the housekeeping staff on how to use Luke and Kennedy safely and effectively.

“The robots are actually incredibly simple to use,” said Settle, who will oversee the use of the robots. “The robots keep a log of every time it is used, which it uploads to a database.”

Since direct exposure to UV lights can be hazardous to humans, the robots come with recommended safety measures and devices to protect users and by-standers. Each robot must be used in non-occupied rooms and has a motion detector which will instantly deactivate the device in the event of entrance.

“The UV light is totally safe to view through glass, although it might be visually uncomfortable,” explained Settle. “To limit visual discomfort in area with glass doors, we will be using blackout curtains when disinfecting those rooms.”

Upon completion of training with housekeeping staff, the robots will begin their full-time roles at NMCCL. Luke and Kennedy will initially be used for disinfection in the COVID-19 unit, ICU, Emergency Department, and in operating rooms, but will eventually be used in other areas of the Medical Center.
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