Rosie the Robot Combats Infections at Olathe Medical Center

Olathe Medical Center combats deadly viruses with ultaviolet system.
Rosie the Robot Olathe Medical Center


   Her name is Rosie the Robot, and her mission is to protect Olathe Medical Center patients against potentially deadly infections.

   This mission is evidently not impossible because Rosie is doing a good job, says Stan Stuckey, the hospital’s infection prevention coordinator. OMC acquired Rosie last January.

   “Our infection rates when we got this machine were already very, very good,” Stuckey says. “This machine is just another tool to help us maintain the low infection rates that we’ve had since the beginning of January 2015.”

   Joe Dane, the hospital’s environmental services director, whose job includes training a handful of housekeeping staff on how to use the machine, says Rosie provide patients with an important comfort factor.

   “The rooms are clean,” he says. “They don’t have to worry. There’s nothing in there that they’re going home with.”

   Olathe Medical Center is the first hospital in the metropolitan area to get this particular kind of infection-destroying machine built by Surfacide. Olathe’s system uses three separate towers, not the typical single tower used elsewhere, to emit powerful yet safe UV-C energy which effectively kills bacterial spores and viruses, including superbugs.

   According the Centers for Disease Control, although significant progress has been made in preventing healthcare-associated infection (HAI), there is much work to be done. Unfortunately, HAIs affect 5 to 10 percent of hospitalized patients while they receive treatment for another condition in the United States every year. HAIs create significant health risks, resulting in 99,000 deaths a year. They cost the healthcare industry $20 billion each year in the United States alone.


Rosie the Robot in hospital room Surfacide


   Equipment like Rosie, which was named in an employee contest at Olathe Medical Center, can go a long way in eradicating multi-drug resistant organisms, including C.diff (clostridium difficile) and MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). The three emission towers are placed strategically in the patient rooms to kill germs in all areas, including the bathroom and hard-to-reach places. Before Rosie does her job, the hospital’s housekeeping staff thoroughly cleans and disinfects the rooms. Rosie is also used in the hospitals’ operating rooms. 

   The system takes about 20 minutes to disinfect the rooms, using laser mapping to confirm every exposed surface is completely covered during each disinfection cycle. The UV-C system is used in rooms that have housed patients with multi-drug resistant organisms and in any unoccupied patient room when the system is not already in use. The hospital strives to keep Rosie running as much as possible day and night.

   “The machine scans the room to tell the environmental services person how long it’s going to take to clean, and it’s looking to see how much stuff is in the room and how big the room is,” Stuckey explains. “So after it scans the room, the environmental services person sees that it’s going to take 20 minutes, for instance. If it says it’s going to take 40 minutes, then they know they have to go back and reposition the machine.”

   The hospital is particularly concerned about C.diff, a spore-forming organism.

   “Most organisms that people get infections with, even the resistant organisms, are easy to kill once they’re outside your body, like on a table,” Stuckey says. “But C.diff is hard to kill, whether it’s inside your body or outside your body. So this ultraviolet does kill it. There is a benchmark that is set that we want to stay under at all times. If we’re at that benchmark, we’re average. We’re about half the national average of C. diff infections. That’s awesome.”


Surfacide killing superbugs ultraviolet system olathe medical center


   He says the hospital declared war on C. diff at the end of 2014, putting certain protocols in place to combat it, such as bleach-cleaning every room that housed a C. diff patient.
“We have a different cart that comes up if it’s a C. diff patient that’s stocked differently so the nurse has access to bleach, different signage, educational materials for the patient to help them understand what this is and why it’s different and just heightened awareness among our staff,” he says. “It’s really an indicator of excellent nursing care.”

   At the very least, patients should not end up sicker in the hospital than when they came in.

   “That happens all too often across the country,” Stuckey says. “I tell all new employees, ‘We know some people are going to die, but nobody should die from a hospital-acquired infection.” 

   Germ Warfare

  • About 1 in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection that they didn’t come in with.


  • 722,000 of healthcare-associated infections occur in U.S. acute-care hospitals.


  • 99,000 hospital patients with an HAI died while hospitalized.


  • In the United States, approximately 2 million people become ill every year with antibiotic-resistant infections, and approximately 23,000 die.


  • The most common infection patients pick up in the hospital is pneumonia, followed by gastrointestinal illnesses, urinary tract infections, primary bloodstream infections and surgical site infections.


  • Hospital-acquired infections don’t only develop in patients who have surgery. One of the easiest ways for infection-causing bacteria to enter your body is through your skin. IV lines and catheters can cause a bloodstream infection if bacteria or another type of germ enters the bloodstream via the central line.


  • A movement is pressuring doctors to rethink their necktie and white coat – both can spread infection. Studies have found that almost a third of doctors' neckties are contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and almost 70 percent of doctors admit to not cleaning their ties.



   Information is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Categories: Health & Wellness, Healthy Living