New robot rids hospital rooms of germs

      A robot named "Ross" is rolling through the halls of Mercy Health Center. The newest Xenex robot could be your best friend if you find yourself in the hospital.

      "What it is... is a pulse Xenon UV disinfection system," said Rachael Sparks, Technical Director at Xenex.

      The robot's sole purpose is ridding your room of dangerous germs.

      Dr. John Harkess, Infectious Disease Specialist at Mercy, says hospital technicians try their best to prevent hospital acquired infections by wiping down every surface in patient rooms.

      "(There's ) a lot of emphasis on hand washing, and cleaning of equipment to try and prevent bacteria from being spread between patients," he said.

      Dr. Harkess knows cleaners can only do so much.

      "Studies have shown even if we clean using potent disinfectants, sometimes there can still be bacteria or spores left behind."

      That's why Mercy is giving Ross 30 days to prove himself.

      "A lot of our hospitals have seen reductions in horrible super bug infections like C. diff, to the tune of 53-percent facility-wide, and MRSA or Mersa dropping 54-percent," said Sparks.

      It doesn't take much for Ross to get to work. Once he's rolled into a room, a technician enters a pass code and the room number. Ross lifts his head and starts pulsing UVC light in every direction.

      Sparks says UVC is produced by the sun but filtered out in the ozone layer. Her Xenex robots recreate UVC 25,000 times more intense.

      Germs don't have a chance.

      "We're artificially making it (UVC light) in the room because bacteria and viruses don't have any mechanism of defense against it," she said.

      Five minutes later Ross has completed his mission. The room is disinfected and ready for the next patient.

      Sparks says almost 200 hospitals have purchased a Xenex computer and she's hoping Mercy will become the permanent home for Ross.

      "Mercy is hoping that this is the kind of results they can see in their own hospital to add another layer of patient safety," she said.