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The Miriam Hospital First In State to Fight Dangerous Germs with Ultraviolet Technology


Xenex system shown to be effective in fighting C. diff, MRSA and more

As antibiotic-resistant germs become harder to fight, The Miriam Hospital is using a new tool to disinfect patient areas -- a kind of “superbug zapping robot.” The Xenex room disinfection system uses ultraviolet technology to get rid of highly infectious pathogens such as Clostridium difficile (C.diff), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), norovirus and even influenza.

Xenex room disinfectionThe Miriam is the first hospital in the state to begin using this disinfection system as another measure in its efforts to make the hospital as safe as possible for its patients. It joins other hospitals in the country using the Xenex robot, which uses pulsed xenon ultraviolet technology to destroy pathogens that cause serious illness.

“Our patients’ health and safety is our top priority. If there are tools we can utilize to keep them from being exposed to potentially dangerous germs, we will use them,” says Sandra Cheng, vice president of support services at The Miriam.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year at least two million people in the U.S. become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. At least 23,000 people die as a result of these infections. Among those is C. diff, a severe intestinal disease caused by bacteria. Risk of C. diff infection increases with age, antibiotic treatments and time spent in hospitals or nursing homes--where multiple cases can lead to infection outbreaks. Each year in the U.S, C. diff is responsible for 500,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths.

Julie Nakos is the director of environmental services at The Miriam and was responsible for the implementation of the Xenex system and its ongoing use. She says there are a number of published studies from other hospitals around the country to indicate the effectiveness of the Xenex system in disinfecting patient areas. Nakos says, “We are rolling out the use of the Xenex system in our most vulnerable areas first, and eventually we will expand it throughout the hospital. Not only is it portable and easy to use, but based on the reports, we feel confident that we are better able to destroy those pathogens that pose a threat to our patients.” See more studies (

Because the Xenex device is portable, it can be used in virtually every area within the hospital if and when needed. The other benefit is how rapidly it works -- the environmental staff at the hospital are able to completely disinfect a patient room in five to 10 minutes. See the robot in use (  

Cheng points out another benefit of the system, which supports the hospital’s efforts of being environmentally conscious. “We take pride in being a “green” hospital, and we were happy to learn the Xenex device only uses green technology and contains no mercury or hydrogen peroxide,” she said.