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Tualatin hospital takes aim at preventable infections


Legacy Meridian Park adopts IRiS to fight bacteria

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Intelligence Room Sterilization system uses ultraviolet radiation to kill potentially harmful microorganisms. Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center began using the system to clean hospital facilities earlier this month.Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center is poised to become one of the cleanest hospitals on the West Coast.

Peter Mersereau, director of surgical services at Meridian Park, had long searched for a more thorough way to rid hospital rooms, operating facilities and laboratories of harmful bacteria, specifically C. difficile and MRSA, that can lead to healthcare-associated infections. According to the Center for Disease Control, these infections can cause more than 98,000 deaths to patients yearly nationwide.

Mersereau explains that such infections, which are most commonly transmitted from patient to patient, pose significant risk to populations whose immunity are already weakened. While researching more effective means of disinfection, Mersereau came across a method called Intelligent Room Sterilization (IRiS), which had been most commonly used in the food service and water treatment industries.

IRiS involves a portable system of ultraviolet lamps, which transmit UVC radiation in closed spaces. The IRiS unit calculates the size of the room, then irradiates bacteria, spores and viruses by damaging the potentially harmful microorganisms’ DNA. This is especially useful in a hospital environment, where bacteria often modify to become resistant to antibiotics.

“We settled on (IRiS) because it’s incredibly efficient. It’s a bigger, higher energy system,” Mersereau said.

The ultraviolet radiation bounces off glass and surfaces, and typically sterilizes a patient room in about six minutes and an operating theater in about 35 minutes.

Because there is some risk of skin and vision damage, IRiS is only used to clean empty rooms and spaces. The system involves a motion sensor that shuts down the UV irradiation process if movement is detected.

Meridian Park used an independent lab to test IRiS’ efficacy in a hospital setting. Surfaces that tested positive for bacterial contamination tested negative for contaminants after IRiS was run, Mersereau said.

IRiS will be integrated with the already stringent approach used by the hospital’s housekeeping staff to compensate for humor error.

“This will help us ensure that any potential leftover contaminate will be neutralized,” Mersereau explained.

The system has been in use for just over a week and data is unavailable regarding the impact it has made at the medical center. But Mersereau hopes to partner with IRiS manufacturer Medline to pilot a study about infection control in hospitals.

Although other health care institutes in Ohio and Michigan have adopted IRiS, Meridian Park is positioning itself as the first hospital to do so on the West Coast. The IRiS system was implemented last week at a cost of $125,000 to the hospital. It’s scheduled for daily sweeps through procedure suites, and then will be put on a full-time rotation to clean empty patient rooms in the 150-bed hospital.

“If we can stop even a handful of infections, (IRiS) pays for itself in terms of a patient’s health and well-being,” Mersereau said.

To see a demo of IRiS at work, visit vimeopro.com/medline/medline-iris-mercy-health.