Meet the newest member of Erlanger’s healthcare team: a germ-zapping robot

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Chattanooga, Tenn. — Erlanger Health System has taken a giant leap into the future with the addition of a germ-fighting robot that uses ultraviolet light to zap harmful bacteria from equipment and areas throughout the hospital.

Resembling R2D2 from Star Wars, the Xenex robot uses pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV-C) light that is 25,000 times more powerful than sunlight to destroy harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even bacterial spores. Studies show that the Xenex room disinfection system is consistently 20 times more effective than standard chemical cleaning practices and effective against a variety of the most dangerous superbugs, including Clostridium difficile endospores (C. diff), norovirus, influenza, and staph bacteria like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA.

In just five to 10 minutes, the device can disinfect a patient room, patient bathroom or operating room (OR) by pulsing ultraviolet light, which washes over the surfaces where germs reside without leaving a chemical residue. To disinfect a room after standard cleaning procedures are complete, hospital team members wheel the Xenex robot into the room, begin the automated sequence, and then leave the room. For enhanced safety, a sign placed outside the door warns people not to enter, and a motion sensor automatically shuts off the machine if someone should enter.

Erlanger is the first hospital in Chattanooga and the second hospital in Tennessee to use the Xenex robot. “We already have a strong infection prevention program. The Xenex technology allows us to be even more proactive in protecting the health of our patients and staff,” said Coretha Weaver, Erlanger infection prevention coordinator. “This technology is used in high risk areas, including operating rooms and patient rooms, in conjunction with the extensive cleaning services already provided by our environmental services team.”

“Our team members are very excited to be using this kind of advanced technology in their daily work,” said Steve Wheeler with Erlanger’s Environmental Services. “The environmental services team feels very empowered because they can clearly see that they’re saving lives by preventing infections.”

“Patient safety is always our number one priority,” said Kevin M. Spiegel, FACHE, Erlanger President and CEO. “Erlanger has long been recognized as the region’s leader in medical technology and highly specialized care, so it’s only fitting that we should employ the same level of technological innovation when it comes to preventing infections. One hospital-acquired infection is one too many, so we are excited to begin using the Xenex system to help us achieve our goal of zero infections.”

About Xenex Disinfection Services
Xenex’s patented pulse xenon UV room disinfection system is a pesticidal device used for the advanced environmental cleaning of healthcare facilities. The Xenex system has been repeatedly shown to integrate smoothly into hospital cleaning operations because of its speed and ease of use. The Xenex mission is to eliminate bacteria, viruses and spores in the patient environment that can cause hospital acquired infections and to become the new standard method for disinfection in healthcare facilities worldwide. For more information, visit

About Erlanger Health System

The Erlanger Health System has five Tennessee-based medical campuses, including the region’s only children’s hospital and Level 1 Trauma Center, providing the highest level of trauma care.  Affiliated with the University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga, Erlanger is also the region’s only academic teaching center and treats more than a quarter million patients every year.

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2 Responses to “Meet the newest member of Erlanger’s healthcare team: a germ-zapping robot”

February 02, 2014 at 11:40 am, Lindsay Romines said:

I stayed at Erlanger hospital over night after having my appendix removed! A lot of good this wonderful machine is doing!!! NOT!!! I contracted c.diff from a dirty room, nurse, or doctor! I am still on antibiotics to treat this! I have been battling this infection for weeks now. I could die because someone did not have the time to clean themselves or my hospital room! Also when you enter the emergency room they want you to put the same pulse oxygen moniter on your finger that every other sick person that came into the er has used. Not covered In plastic or cleaned after each use! Nasty! Erlanger want to control c diff???? Control your employees… Fire the nurse that knowingly did not wash her hands or wear gloves or plastic garment while in my room. ( I had a huge sign warning of my condition on the door to my room) She is killing patients! Don’t waste your money on some machine and let it work for you! I am very sadden to think of people who go to Erlanger looking for help and die from something completely unrelated! Train your staff to clean!!!! Please feel free to contact me ! I have much more to “tattle” on you guys about! Just need the right ear to actually listen ! Lindsay Romines


February 03, 2014 at 12:44 pm, erlangerhealth said:

Thanks for your feedback. I am forwarding your comment to the appropriate party to be registered in our complaint response system.


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