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Naval Hospital Harnesses Power of Sun to Increase COVID-19 Protection

Oct. 26, 2020 , Naval Hospital Bremerton

With patient and staff safety being paramount, one command has gone solar for additional safeguards in providing safe care to all in need.

Naval Hospital Bremerton, Washington, has employed a new tactic against the coronavirus and other similar, contagious germs by harnessing the power of the sun.

The Bremerton, Washington-based military treatment facility recently acquired an ultraviolet  light-emitting robot, specifically designed to eradicate infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and is finalizing the last stages of staff training before implementation.

A woman wearing hospital scrubs shows a robot using ultraviolet light disinfection to another woman wearing scrubs and two people wearing military uniforms; all are wearing face masks.
Robot Demon
An ultraviolet light disinfection robot is demonstrated to the staff at Naval Hospital Bremerton in Bremerton, Wash., Oct. 14, 2020. The UV device will soon be in use at the military treatment facility as an additional safeguard against the COVID-19 pandemic. NHB/NMRTC Bremerton supports more than 60,000 military families in West Puget Sound, shaping military medicine through training, mentoring and research to ensure a ready medical force and operationally ready force.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Kyle Steckler
VIRIN: 201014-N-RG482-0033

There are several classifications of ultraviolet light — ultraviolet A, ultraviolet B, or ultraviolet C — and the robots use the C variety due to pathogens not having a natural defense against it. The robot is outfitted with a patented xenon light that artificially produces the ultraviolet C light which can neutralize any pathogens such as COVID-19 in approximately two minutes on any surface. 

The robot is essentially a germ killer. It's designed for use in all areas of the hospital including operating rooms and procedure areas. One such example is the recommended use of a five-minute disinfectant cycle on each side of a hospital bed and in bathrooms following terminal cleaning. 

Patient and staff safety was the first thing on the minds of Naval Hospital Bremerton health care providers during a demonstration of the device The machine is meant to be used in an unoccupied room, equipped with a few safety measures built in such as an on-board safety cone and reusable warning sign(s) for doors. There's even a corded motion detector designed to be placed between the machine and the entrance into the room that deactivates immediately if any motion is detected. The robot is also considered safe near pregnant women and children.

The overall safety of Naval Hospital Bremerton's patients and staff is paramount, with health care providers stating that the new ultraviolet light-emitting robot will be a big benefit to both patients and hospital employees and provide added peace of mind. 

Lt. Cmdr. Candice West, a clinical nurse specialist at Naval Hospital Bremerton, said that typically after a patient is discharged, the room will be manually cleaned up to the standards of the hospital.

"You still do your regular cleanings. Our house cleaning folks, who already do such a great job making sure we're preventing COVID-19 from spreading, clean the room and this machine is just an addition on top of that cleaning to help protect our patients and protect our staff," said West.

Lt. Cmdr. Jason Carmichael, an infection prevention nurse with the quality management department at Naval Hospital Bremerton, said the hospital's Infection Prevention Program will be directly aided by the implementation and regular use of this device and summed the benefits to patients and providers up perfectly.

"Put as simply as possible, this machine is a safe way to disinfect a room in 5-10 minutes, greatly reducing the risk of nosocomial infections," said Carmichael, referencing infections contracted in a hospital environment.

Carmichael said the device is close to being fully implemented at Naval Hospital Bremerton and is in the final stages of in-depth staff training before being rolled out for full use.