As hospitals across the nation face national shortages of masks and other protective equipment for medical professionals, some facilities are forced to find ways to extend the usage of their resources.
For Baptist Health in Jacksonville, a robot does the trick.
The robot cleaner emits UV-light rays to disinfect N-95 protective masks that employees use, which can potentially be exposed to COVID-19.
Called LightStrike robots, they emit the light on the masks for five minutes on each side, cleaning them of bacteria and viruses.
“It’ll extend the life of the mask until it’s visibly soiled or physically damaged,” said Kyal Rector, a senior strategic sourcing agent for value analysis at Baptist.
Baptist already uses the machines to clean out patient and operating rooms, but now one has been given to each of the in-patient hospitals in the region. The robots are manufactured by Xenex Disinfectant Services.
“Our priority is to keep our healthcare workers safe,” said Katie Dorsey, a nursing director at the Baptist Health location at the Beaches. “So those individuals who are receiving them after the de-cons [decontamination] have been very appreciative of that.”
For employees, Dorsey said it’s as easy as dropping their masks off at the end of their shift, and picking them back up when they return.
“Each of our campuses or in-patient hospitals, we set up a location for our team members, kind of a one-stop shop for them to come and obtain their PPE that they need,” Dorsey said.
Since Baptist is able to preserve the masks longer with the robot, the hospital system doesn’t have to spend as much time and money tracking down the dwindling supply of masks.
But Rector said during this global crisis, money is the furthest thing from their minds.
“It's pretty clear that there's not enough masks being produced at a global level for what we need,” Rector said. “So we have to think strategically on what technology can we use today that's readily available to just extend the life, to have some sort of relief valve to let our staff know that they are being protected, so that they can take care of the patient.”
The LightStrike robots are being used at every in-patient facility in the area, and officials said they are working on getting them in every emergency department.
Sky Lebron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.