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Germ-Fighting Robots Help Disinfect Hopkins Intensive Care Units

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Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)— Fighting the spread of hospital superbugs just got easier.

Christie Ileto explains Johns Hopkins has a better weapon using disinfecting robots.

It may look like a portable air conditioning unit, but it’s really a disinfecting robot.

“General cleaning the room is not enough when it comes to really having a clean environment for the next patient,” said Mike Duclos.

Duclos is with Bioquell, a company that operates the robots for Johns Hopkins Hospital. He showed WJZ how the high-tech gadget works.

“We’re sealing the vents in the room, but it’s a three-phase process. It’s vaporizing the hydrogen peroxide. There’s a dwell period that lets it sit on the surface of the room,” Duclos explained.

Translation: the vapor dispersing device cleans the air in sealed rooms with hydrogen peroxide and disinfects all the surfaces.

The robots, which cost more than $40,000 per pair, have been tested by Hopkins researchers since 2007. So far they’ve disinfected more than 4,400 rooms at the hospital.

Charge nurse Kathleen Rusnak says it ensures rooms are completely clean for the next patient.

“We have such bad bugs that we don’t have antibiotics for that. We feel confident and secure that by knowing we have made our rooms as clean as possible,” Rusnak said.

A study just released shows that patients who came into rooms disinfected by these robots were least likely to pick up drug resistant bacteria.

It’s good news for patients, but the cleaning process is pretty lengthy.

Being that it takes more than an hour to do it, is it practical?

“It is practical. We’ve been on sight for over five years, but if we miss a room, we can go back and Bioquell that room,” Duclos said.

Staff calls the robot a big value to fighting the spread of hospital superbugs.

For all of us germaphobes, you’re probably wondering, where can I get this robot? Unfortunately they’re not for sale.

For now, Hopkins uses the robots in areas like intensive care units.

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