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Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital


Germ-Zapping Robot Shines at Truman VA

Zapper the Robot reducing hospital infections

Michael McGowan, Housekeeping Aid using Zapper

Monday, March 23, 2015

He glides through halls, easily slays superbugs and never fails to light up a room. Perhaps you’ve spotted him recently wheeling around the facility between assignments. Zapper recently joined Truman VA’s environmental services department as its newest team member. A pulsed-xenon ultraviolet room disinfection device (germ-zapping robot), he’s a pathogen assassin.

Once a room has been cleaned, Zapper goes in and flashes a couple of 5-minute cycles of pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV) light. The UV light he emits disables C. diff, MRSA, norovirus and other microorganisms - and provides an extra layer of protection against healthcare acquired infections (HAIs). Truman VA is committed to eliminating infections and creating a safer, more effective medical center for patients and employees, which is one of the reasons we enlisted Zapper as part of our infection prevention strategy. The robot kills germs in hard to reach places without contact or chemicals.

Standing 5’2” when he’s at work, Zapper flashes UV light that is thousands of times more intense than sunlight. The light quickly destroys dangerous viruses, bacteria, mold, fungus and bacterial spores that cause infections and make patients and employees sick. No one can be in the room with Zapper, because his bright light has the potential to irritate human eyes. For enhanced safety, a sign placed outside the door warns people not to enter and a motion sensor automatically shuts off the machine if someone should enter.

By effectively destroying the germs on surfaces that can make people sick, germ-zapping robots have proven to reduce HAI rates in hospitals across the country. A team of independent researchers recently published a study, “Evaluation of a Pulsed Xenon Ultraviolet (PX-UV) Disinfection System for Reduction of Healthcare Associated Pathogens in Hospital Rooms,” in the Journal of Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. The study showed that the PX-UV device significantly reduced the contamination of C. diff, MRSA and VRE on frequently touched surfaces in the hospital environment. This study was completed with neither the help nor knowledge of the robot’s manufacturer.

Zapper was named through a “name the robot contest,” which was part of the facility’s Cleanliness Stand Down on Jan. 21. Zapper is pictured with Michael McGowan, a trained Truman VA Housekeeping Aid.


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