UV robots key to reducing hospital infections?
Microbiologist and Sligo man Rodney Cadden tells The Sligo Champion how technology can help with cleanliness
The introduction of new UV technology in hospitals by a Sligo man could see a dramatic decrease of hospital acquired infections, resulting in less bed closures and shorter hospital stays for patients.
For microbiologist Rodney Cadden, the introduction of Ireland's first UV robots to Irish hospitals to tackle infections such as MRSA is a dream come true.
After studying at Sligo Regional Technical College, now Sligo IT, Cadden worked in various sectors of the pharma industry, but over the last three years his sole focus has been on technology that can eradicate hospital acquired infections (HAI).
Now, at the end of a long road and a large amount of investment, the Sligo man is seeing the fruits of his labour, with two hospitals in the country about to take on the UV robots.
This will be the first time ever that an NHS approved technology for disinfection will come into Ireland.
Through his company, Hytech.ie, Rodney hopes to introduce 49 units into hospitals across the country by 2022.
Mr Cadden explained that the UV technology would see the current cleaning time of approximately four hours of a single occupancy hospital room decrease to just 23 minutes.
"I've opened up my new business www.hytech.ie and it was effectively to address the serious issues and hospital patient concerns around hospital acquired infections and all that goes with that, bed closures, patients in beds for longer periods of time, €200m spent by the HSE every year," he told The Sligo Champion.
Along with this, Cadden hopes that the new technology will make a real difference to patients and their families by giving them renewed trust in hospitals and preventing avoidable stresses that go along with patients acquiring infections such as MRSA.
"Specifically I'm addressing Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) the generic of ecoli," explained Cadden, who went to the US three years ago to source the technology where it has been used successfully for the last 25 years.
According to the 50 year old, the unique selling point of the technology which is called 'Surfacide' is that instead of taking four hours to clean a room and 'fog' it, the UV robots disinfect a room in its entirety in 23 minutes.
The machine can be pushed into a room after there has been a patient designated with hospital acquired infection (HAI).
Outlining the success of the technology so far, Cadden explained that the UV robot was introduced to the Royal Children's Hospital resulting in a dramatic reduction of infection rates in children.
"We want to offer a game changer to Irish patients and to Sligo patients and their families.Hospital acquired infections will be a thing of the past. This technology is now available to patients and their families in hospitals in the Northwest."
Cadden said for once families and patients will see something being done in hospitals to address infections.
Explaining the benefits, the father of two said the current system of deep cleaning rooms takes four to five hours, meaning the decommissioning of a bed for that period of time.
"With Surfacide this is effectively where you push the units into the room, it triangulates the room with laser to ensure that the UV hits 100% coverage with no shadowing."
He went on to explain, "Previously, systems into Ireland could not address the issue of shadowing, this system can because it's three units."
Cadden believes the new technology to Ireland is a 'massive step forward' in reducing infections.
The UV machines can even be used in single curtain bays of hospitals.
"You can place a unit inside a single bay bed and to the left and right of it you can have patients getting treatment. That's why hospitals want it, let's say it's a busy Saturday night and you have someone in with Hepatitis or AIDS, they vomit, it goes on the floor and it's cleaned up, then you've to put another patient in there. These units are broken apart and pushed in, close the curtains around it and it's done. If the curtain is disturbed the machine is powered off automatically.
Cadden said the return of the investment for hospitals is no more CRE infections which normally happen in October, November, and winter months. Hospitals interested in the technology will go through a two year evaluation process.
"It's difficult to get money from people and we hear the HSE has no money. Uniquely what we're doing is we're financing them to purchase it."
He went on to explain, "The price of toilet roll in Beaumont a month is €8,500. We'll be able to put one of those machines in for less than €2,500.
Putting savings into context, Mr Cadden explained that one Irish hospital spent €10m in 2016 on performing deep cleans because they had CRE infections.
"Royal Manchester Children's Hospital had a 46% decrease in MRSA, that's massive. That means a child doesn't have to stay in the hospital another seven days, it means when that child would have MRSA, a bed would be taken out of action for six hours, meanwhile, a bed manager cannot admit a patient."
Realising that his product addressed HSE onjections due to 'shadowing' - rooms not being able to be fully cleaned due to shadows, Cadden now believes he has cracked the code in rolling out the technology.
"It's been a long long struggle and the only time the door was opened is when we became finalists for 2019 for the Health Innovation Hub."
Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) works across the health sector with Irish businesses to creatively solve problems and improve patient care and Cadden sees the product's inclusion as a finalist this yeat as a real stamp of a approval.
'Every inch of a room or patient's bay is cleaned'
The new technology can aid in bed management and in keeping up to date with ward cleaning also thanks to 'cloud technology'.
Cadden explained that once the UV machines are turned on or off it will automatically update the cloud providing information on where and when areas of a hospital have been cleaned.
This allows hospital management to know what beds can be turned over in real time, and in turn allow them to see the benefits of the technology at work.
The manager of a hospital can hit a button on a Friday morning and can see where this unit was being used, who used it and for how long.
"It's a cloud-based system and it then goes to the infections control. They can pinpoint where infections have been and cross reference their data with where the UV technology has been."
Cadden's company has secured €3m in funding for what he believes is revolutionary technology for the health sector and said this will go towards purchasing 32 units.
After trialling the technology, the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital bought four units in total, which reaffirmed Cadden's belief in the technology.
Explaining other innovative ways it is aiding the health sector, Cadden explained that he has worked with chidlren's ambulance organisation, Bumbleance.
"We provided them with smaller box units (of Surfacide). Transporting children in the Bumbleance they could have MRSA and they're playing video games, etc, all controls need to be cleaned. Inside it nukes all infection."
Cadden's company is currently in discussions with Enterprise Ireland in relation to manufacturing the technology in Ireland.
"There's no exclusivity intellectual property when it comes to UV," he explained. "It's ultimately being able to address shadowing and this is NHS approved, the mapping and three machine approach is key in ensuring every inch of a room or patient's bay is cleaned."