Gritman Medical Center’s health care-acquired infection rate is already well below the national average, and a $125,000 state-of-the-art ultraviolet disinfectant system could further improve the Moscow hospital’s elite rate.

Since July, Gritman Environmental Services technicians have used the ultraviolet disinfectant, called Surfacide Helios, to kill bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19, in the hospital’s operating rooms, Emergency Department and other medical rooms and offices.

As many as three of the roughly 6-foot tall ultraviolet towers, which are on small wheels, conduct a digital map of a room, said Jonathan Hukill, Gritman Environmental Services director. The towers identify the size of the room and objects in the room before determining the length of time needed to disinfect the entire space. The towers then slowly rotate in circles and emit ultraviolet light, killing all bacteria and viruses in their path.

Annette Veneziano, Gritman infection prevention nurse, said it takes an average of 25 minutes for the towers to clean a room, depending on the size of it. Hukill said technicians use the ultraviolet disinfectant to clean five to 10 rooms per day.

Hukill said the towers clean operating rooms before every operation, and they are also implemented in the intensive care unit and the Family Birth Center.

“We’re trying to get these absolutely everywhere we can,” Hukill said.

Chief Nursing Officer Bob Kendrick said the hospital already has a great cleaning regimen but Gritman’s new toy takes it to the next level.

Gritman recorded a 0.1 percent health care-acquired infection rate in 2019, well below the 3.5 percent national benchmark.

“We have an incredible record of low infection rates in the hospital,” Kendrick said.

Hukill said the hospital achieved the extremely low infection rate by proper hand hygiene and traditional cleaning and disinfection methods, which will continue.

“It’s like a complement to our already good cleaning practices in the hospital, and it’s just an extra added layer of protection to protect our patients,” Veneziano said of the new disinfecting equipment.

Kendrick said the relatively new technology is common in large medical facilities, so Gritman is extremely fortunate to utilize it. He said the equipment’s arrival at Gritman was perfect timing because of COVID-19.

Peter Mundt, Gritman director of community relations and marketing, said the hospital covered the majority of the $125,000 cost and a state COVID-19 pandemic relief grant program funded the remaining amount.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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