HonorHealth Hospitals Using Robots To Fight Off Coronavirus

Robots are at the forefront of the Coronavirus battle in HonorHealth hospitals.

In five of the Arizona hospitals, an unusual a three-foot tall germ-zapping robot is assisting in the disinfection of the disease. 32 robots are in use, disinfecting every surface in the room with high-intensity ultraviolet light. According to HonorHealth, it’s one of the largest fleets in the country.

“That light disrupts either the DNA or RNA of bacteria or viruses, respectively, and it renders those bacteria and viruses to a state where they cannot replicate,” said Dr. Stephanie Jackson, HonorHealth’s senior vice president and chief quality officer.

“So they cannot go on to produce another infection.”

San Antonio-based company Xenex Disinfection Systems produces these robots and says they can destroy the coronavirus in 2 minutes.

HonorHealth has initialized these robots amid the coronavirus pandemic as part of their ramped-up cleaning measures. The robots help to destroy germs that may have survived manual cleanings.

“As you can imagine, when you’re in a space that has a lot of nooks and crannies to it, it’s hard to get to all those places,” she said. “So the UV light really can penetrate the whole room.”

HonorHealth has been using the robots since 2016. They were first used for patients with blood cancers, who because of their treatment have significantly compromised immune systems and are vulnerable to infections. Recently, HonorHealth has expanded the use of these robots to medical surgery floors, operating rooms and most recently to urgent cares where COVID-19 patients are being treated.

Each robot costs more than $100,000, but they have been effective in helping HonorHealth hospitals acquire low hospital-acquired infection rates.

“That’s something that is a concern nationally,” she said. “It’s one of the most common complications after surgery, for instance, so we feel that the robots have helped us to achieve those good rates that we have.”


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