Chelsey Clapper, VP of marketing and design, iCleanse
For so long, nursing homes and long-term care facilities have been plagued with various virus out breaks. Their generally older demographic and confined spaces make them highly susceptible to acquiring and transmitting viruses amongst each other.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for these communities, having seen record numbers of deaths in the nursing home sector. Keeping this vulnerable population healthy has been caregivers’ number one priority. New guidelines have been put in place to ensure that patients and staff are safe and are not at risk of spreading viruses. Some of these new safety measures include social distancing, decreasing the number of outside visitors, making sure common spaces are regularly cleaned and disinfected, and ramping up testing efforts to ensure those who are infected are quarantined in a timely manner.
The use of technology in healthcare
The healthcare industry is burdened with the challenges of healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) amongst patients. It is estimated that nearly 700,000 HAI’s occur in the United States each year1 and nearly 100,000 patients die because of those infections.2
Nurses and physicians are increasingly using technology like tablets in their day-to-day work. Upwards of 87% of physicians employ mobile devices in their workplace.3 Tablets help save time between patients by being able to quickly input patient information or view needed information. They also are used for speedy patient check-ins and keeping track of visitors inside facilities.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, tablets have been used in nursing homes for residents to communicate with their loved ones. Many states and organizations have allocated funds or donated tablets so that residents have access to video chat apps, as well as apps to keep up morale. With this increased use of technology there is an increased risk of transmitting viruses. Proper disinfection of these mobile devices is essential to keeping those working and living in nursing homes safe. It also is important that proper handwashing is being utilized. Unwashed or semi-washed hands increase the risk of contaminating a disinfected mobile device.4
Chemical vs. UV light disinfection
Chemical disinfection of high-touch surfaces is standard in most healthcare settings. Traditional disinfecting, though, offers several challenges to ensuring that high-touch surfaces are properly disinfected.
Sufficient contact time is one of the most challenging requirements for chemical disinfection. Contact times vary depending on the product and can take anywhere from one to 10 minutes to be effective. This requires that the entire surface area be wet for the period of time stated on the label.5
Ultraviolet light is an electromagnetic wave that is invisible to the human eye, located between X-rays and visible light. UV-C light in the 200 nm to 300 nm range can be deadly to microorganisms. When the DNA of bacteria, viruses and pathogens absorb this light, it renders them inert and unable to replicate.6 Pathogens cannot infect if they cannot replicate.
Applying the correct dosage of UV-C light is required to ensure complete inactivation of pathogens. Higher exposure to UV-C light ensures that nucleic acid is damaged beyond repair.7 UV-C disinfection provides lower risk of error, unlike chemical disinfection, which relies on an operator to ensure adequate results.8
How iCleanse helps those most vulnerable
iCleanse (formerly ReadyDock), provides chemical-free UV-C disinfection of mobile devices for smartphones and tablets. The intent is to take the guesswork out of disinfecting and ensure that roaming high-touch surfaces are disinfected frequently. Designed to control the disinfection process, iCleanse is engineered to ensure that disinfection happens the same way every time. Results from studies show that, in a 60-second cycle, the technology kills >99.99% of the bacteria on mobile devices.9
A study at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVM-MC), shows that 100% of parents’ cellphones brought in housed bacteria. Ninety percent of parents’ hands had the same bacteria as their cellphones. The same study revealed that 94% of parents used their cellphone at the baby’s bedside.10
The University of Vermont implemented the technology into its NICU, to reduce the number of bacteria brought in. Parents’ cellphones were disinfected for 60 seconds while they washed their hands to prepare for the visit. Charles Micelli of UVM-MC said, “The proliferation of mobile devices helps streamline access to our information but also introduces a roaming high-touch surface into our environment. The devices have provided us an additional method to facilitate effective disinfection of these mobile devices.”
Most recently, Athena Health Care Systems partnered with iCleanse in providing another layer of safety and infection control to their 51 nursing homes in New England. For over three decades, Athena Health Care Systems, based in Farmington, Connecticut, has been a regional leader in providing skilled nursing care; short-term, post-hospital rehabilitation; assisted and senior living; as well as home health, hospice care and private duty program services.
“The units have been well-received and greatly appreciated by the teams at our centers,” said Larry Santilli, president and CEO of Athena Health Care Systems. Santilli added: “Nursing homes across the country have been significantly impacted by COVID-19, and Athena Health Care Systems has gone to extraordinary lengths to provide protection, whether in the forms of PPE or the newest technology in the units, to ensure the health and safety of our staff. The units provide not only another level of infection prevention, but they also provide peace of mind for our dedicated, compassionate caregivers. Chris Allen and his team have developed a great tool to complement our expanding infection prevention program.”
Contact: Chelsey Clapper, [email protected]
- Magill SS, Edwards JR, Bamberg W, et al. Multistate point-prevalence survey of health care-associated infections. N Engl J Med. 2014;370:1198-1208.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthcare-associated Infections: Data and Statistic. January 12, 2015; http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/surveillance/, October 2, 2015.
- Ventola CL. Mobile devices and apps for health care professionals: uses and benefits. P T. 2014;39(5):356-364.
- Beckstrom AC, Cleman PE, Cassis-Ghavami FL, Kamitsuka MD. Surveillance study of bacterial contamination of the parent’s cell phone in the NICU and the effectiveness of an anti-microbial gel in reducing transmission to the hands. J Perinatol. 2013;33(12):960-963.
- Rutala WA, Weber DJ. Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;2008.
- What is Germicidal Ultraviolet? September 18, 2018; http://www.ultraviolet.com/whatis.htm, January 26, 2021.
- About UVC. n.d..https://www.klaran.com/klaran-university/about-uvc, January 26, 2021.
- Otter JA, Yezli S, French GL. The role played by contaminated surfaces in the transmission of nosocomial pathogens. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2011;32(7):687-699.
- Assessment of ReadyDock:UV, a general purpose disinfection process using germidical light on mobile devices. Yale-New Haven Hospital;2013.
- Brooks B, Firek BA, Miller CS, et al. Microbes in the neonatal intensive care unit resemble those found in the gut of premature infants. Microbiome. 2014;2(1):1.