A robot named THOR is a new weapon in the infection prevention armoury at Sydney Adventist Hospital.
THOR uses UV-C light to penetrate hard-to-reach hidden spaces, maximising the potential to ensure the eradication of infective pathogens and superbugs. The high-tech device complements existing comprehensive surface disinfection and will help to clean operating theatres and other clinical and procedural areas.
Christopher Stokes, from surgical specialties, said the potential impact of THOR on COVID-19 is of particular significance.
“Manual cleaning protocols have been refined, however this surface cleaning is now assisted by UV-C technology,” he said.
“Significantly THOR uses light globes that have been found in a recent study by Boston University to eradicate COVID-19 in minutes.”
The THOR system scans and maps the space to be disinfected, assessing all the items and surfaces in the room, calculating the time the decontamination should take. During the process the device moves up and down, flashing with a vivid blue light that infiltrates surfaces in darker shadowed areas that manual cleaning may not reach. The process emits a slight sulphur smell as it irradiates unseen skin particles and hair follicles. It then produces a report to verify the disinfection delivery has been completed.
“It’s hard to reach into all those nooks and crannies in a complicated healthcare environment like an operating theatre, despite the stringent cleaning processes,” said head of orthopaedic surgery, Dr Rod Brooks.
“There is always a possible risk of patients coming into the hospital, inadvertently carrying harmful pathogens which could be potential sources of infection.
“Orthopaedic surgeons must be particularly vigilant to avoid any of these pathogens getting into the bone during surgery. Bone or joint infection can be hard to eradicate, even with antibiotics, particularly where an implanted prosthesis is present.
“It’s one of the reasons why we’ve always been so interested in maintaining a super-sterile theatre environment.”
Manager of the San’s sterile processing department, Roel Castillo, agrees. “We value our excellent minimal infection rates and our ability to provide the highest level of environmental safety where these surgical and medical interventions occur within the San,” he said. “Our readiness to address the risk of hospital-acquired infections, whether bacterial or viral, has never been more important in our healthcare provision.”
Ultraviolet is a form of light invisible to the human eye which exists on the electromagnetic spectrum between X-rays and visible light. UV-C wavelengths are between 180 and 280 nanometres, making them germicidal and able to destroy bacteria and viruses, preventing them from infecting and reproducing.
THOR UV-C generates more power than older generation UV technology and uses shortwave ultraviolet light which delivers light rays at 253.7 nanometres, proven to kill superbugs in minutes. It does this in an effective, easy, environmentally-friendly and chemical-free way that doesn’t cause damage to the areas being treated.