SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara's Cottage Hospital has added new cleaning tools to the old mop and bucket: "Shelby" and "Lacy," two germ-zapping robots.
The high-tech robotic boxes are taking on hard-to-kill viruses and bacteria like MRSA, the flesh-eating disease, with a powerful ultraviolet tool called Xenex.
"Our device is actually 25,000 times brighter than sunlight and it soaks the entire room in super intense ultraviolet light that breaks down the DNA of bacteria," said Sarah Simmons, Science Director for Xenex.
Scrambling a bacteria's DNA makes it impossible to replicate and unble to infect the next patient.
"This is actually going to make a big difference in reducing possible infections here even with our already low infection rate," said Leslie Stanfield, Director of Infection, Prevention and Control at Cottage Hospital.
The mobile systems are easy to use and roll from room to room which must be cleaned first by housekeeping.
The user then logs in and the light-flashing -- or germ-zapping -- begins.
"Our focus is surface infections," said Simmons. "Bedrails, over-bed table, the nurse call button .. all these places where bacteria can hide, the nooks and crannies that humans will not be able to clean," said Simmons.
Environmentally-friendly zenon or plasma light ultraviolet techonology that's been around since the 1970s fuels the pulse.
The robotic system went into service two weeks ago and is only used for medical purposes but perhaps one day this UV techonlogy can be used in school gymnasiums, prisons, and even in your own kitchen.
The system is fairly new -- just 3-years old -- and can clean a patient's room between five and ten minutes.