SOMC Employs Ultraviolet Radiation to Avoid Hospital Infections

Sep 05, 2018
Courtesy of: Hackensack Meridian Health Southern Ocean Medical Center Helios Ultraviolet Disinfection System

In-hospital infections are a huge problem in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 722,000 such infections each year in U.S. acute-care hospitals alone. That results in an annual cost to treat the infections of nearly $10 billion and adds, on average, 17 days to a patient’s hospital stay.

Now a new weapon to avoid such infections is being deployed at the Southern Ocean Medical Center in Stafford Township. Hackensack Meridian Health has deployed the Helios ultraviolet disinfection system developed by a company named Surfacide. The system uses three portable towers that emit powerful, yet safe, UV-C energy that is effective against bacteria, spores and viruses, including so-called “superbugs.”

The 10-to-30 minute procedure is performed by the Surfacide system in a closed room, after an environmental service cleaning professional has manually cleaned the area and wiped down surfaces. Treating the room with UV-C energy helps disinfect areas that were not completely cleaned manually.

UV-C energy has been used for decades to kill organisms in water supplies and other applications where bacteria may be present. Now it is used to kill organisms on hard surfaces found in hospitals including bed rails, TV remotes, patient tray tables, guest chairs, countertops and bathrooms.

The system had already been employed at other Hackensack Meridian Health hospitals including Hackensack University Medical Center, Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Ocean Medical Center, Bayshore Medical Center, Palisades Medical Center, and the Raritan Bay Medical Center – Old Bridge and Perth Amboy.

“It’s no longer enough to rely on approaches such as antibiotics and manual disinfection,” said Linda Broderick, director of environmental services and transport, Southern Ocean Medical Center.

“Protecting patients against infection has always been a high priority for us,” said Regina Foley, Ph.D, MBA, RN, chief operations officer of the Southern Ocean Medical Center. “This technology provides an extra layer of protection for both patients and team members, which is especially important today because we need to take every step available to guard against infection from antibiotic-resistant organisms and other infectious agents.”

There are three types of ultraviolet radiation – A, B and C – all released by the sun. According to the American Cancer Society, UVA rays are linked to long-term skin damage such as wrinkles, while UVB rays can damage the skin cells’ DNA directly, leading to most skin cancers. UVC rays are the strongest of all but they don’t get through the Earth’s atmosphere and are not in sunlight.

UVC rays, though, have much more energy than UVA or UVB rays. That’s why they are effective microorganism killers. That’s also why Surfacide’s Helios system must be used in closed rooms.

— Rick Mellerup

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