Recent studies show that ultraviolet cleaning reduces hospital transmission of superbugs by up to thirty percent. The use of ultraviolet light to enhance room disinfection is an emerging method in reducing the relative risk of colonization and infections in hospitals. Since 2013, West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital (WCCH) in Sulphur has been using UV light technology to expand and enhance the effectiveness of their disinfection methods, which continues to be helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic.
June McBride, RN, CIC is the Infection Prevention Coordinator at WCCH. She makes sure that every step is being taken to keep germs and bacteria from spreading. "Our environmental services team members have a specific order of things that they do to clean the room to ensure that there's no cross-contamination or transmission of any bacteria or organisms," she said. But even with every step taken by the human hand to kill germs, additional treatment can enhance manual cleaning procedures.
Enter ultraviolet light technology, using short wavelength ultraviolet light to kill microorganisms in the patients' environment. "Before a room is re-occupied or a surgical suite is utilized, we thoroughly clean and disinfect room surfaces by physical and chemical means. We also utilize the enhanced UV light as a part of our routine disinfection practice,” says McBride.
A grid breaks down how many minutes of UV light exposure would be needed to kill things like influenza A or COVID-19. “That would take approximately 1.6 minutes for a 12 foot room," said McBride.
The UV light disinfection system is used to ensure all areas of the Hospital, especially in our operating rooms, labor and delivery unit and any patient isolation areas, are properly disinfected. More recently, the UV light is used in any room that housed a COVID-19 patient. "We want our patients to take comfort in knowing that their safety and protection is always our number one priority, especially when they are having a procedure or surgery performed at our facility,” said McBride.
UV light disinfection does not take the place of standard wipe downs. It is simply an added layer of protection. Once the system is programmed "on", the operator walks out of the room, closes the door and sensors detect when it is safe to start cleaning. UV cleaning sessions take a maximum of 15 minutes, killing more than 30 viruses, bacteria and fungus. The UV light turns itself off automatically when it is done cleaning.
This is just one more tool in our arsenal to fight infection and keep our patients, visitors, and employees safe.