Carilion NICU uses UV light to protect tiniest patients from unseen germs

Carilion NICU uses UV light to protect tiniest patients from unseen germs

Carilion Clinics Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurses wanted a safe way for parents to take photos of tiny, sickly newborns without exposing them to the harmful germs that hitchhike on phones.

After a year of looking for a simple, easy to use solution, they settled on boxes that use ultraviolet light to kill viruses and bacteria without harming expensive electronics.

Our first problem solving process was to have people put cellphones in little baggies. First of all, you dont know how sanitary the baggies are because they are on pallets in warehouses, and they are hard to use in a baggie, she said. The more difficult something is to use, the less likely visitors will comply.

Ramsey said simply banning phones wasnt practical.

Ten or 15 years ago, people just used the phones to talk and you could say, If you need to talk, step into the hallway. But today, phones are lifelines, she said.

Parents want to be able to take photos and videos of their newborns and to be able to check on their kids at home. And the NICU uses iPads for parent education and to keep all connected.

Not just visitors have phones. So, too, do nurses and doctors.

Theres lots of research that prove cellphones are extremely dirty and carry germs, Ramsey said. And there is research that shows NICU parents know this fact, but they dont take steps to prevent cross contamination or to decrease the risk of infection.

Neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the National Association of Neonatal Nurses has offered a universal recommendation for disinfecting phones, she said, and policies differ at hospitals across the country.

We looked into other things and found this product, and I did some research on the technology, she said. Its proven to be effective at killing all kinds of bacteria and viruses. The kind of standard for disinfection is if it can kill C. diff. Clostridium difficile can live outside the body for months and can cause severe diarrhea.

The light sanitizing process isnt new for hospitals. Roanoke Memorial uses a robotic disinfection system with UV light technology to treat rooms of patients who have infections such as C. diff or norovirus.

C. diff isnt typically found in NICUs, but if a technology is capable of killing it, then the process likely will knock out other, less difficult to eradicate germs.

Ramsey said that standard appealed to the NICU staff who can expect to care for at least 42 babies each day. The NICU has room for 60 babies, and the past few months it has averaged about 50 sick newborns a day each with his or her set of phone toting visitors.

Sick and premature infants have almost no immune system to begin with, Ramsey said. They need a lot of handling because they are babies, and they are candidates for opportunistic infections.

To lessen the risk, staff and visitors on entering one of the NICUs five pods are asked to place their phones, glasses, pens and any other equipment that can be exposed to light into a box the size of a toaster oven. The ultraviolet light kills the germs without the use of chemicals.

During the 45 second cleansing cycle, visitors are asked to wash their hands and arms up to their elbows.

Ramsey said the outside of the UV boxes are wiped down to lessen the risk of germs lurking on knobs and doors. The boxes are also used to disinfect stethoscopes, thermometers and blood pressure cuffs used on the infants.
Carilion NICU uses UV light to protect tiniest patients from unseen germs

care health clinic to avert financial cliff

care health clinic to avert financial cliff

The head of an Alle Kiski Valley free care health clinic is relieved that President Trump signed a $400 billion budget deal on Friday that includes funding for Community Health Centers for two years.

Passage of the stopgap budget also ended a brief federal government shutdown that occurred overnight.

Officials with Community Health Clinic, which has medical offices in New Kensington and Vandergrift that treat low income patients, were hopeful government officials would come through, and they did.

“Health centers are funded for two years, and we are very excited and thankful,” clinic Executive Director Raji Jayakrishnan said. “Now we go back to focusing on patient care and the job at hand.”

The budget only funds the government through March 23, but includes two years of Community Health Center funding at $7 billion and an extension of the Children Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for four years.

The health care funding comes as a welcome relief to roughly 1,400 free or low cost health care centers across the nation that had been anxiously awaiting the fate of their funding since Sept. 30.

If it hadn passed, every health care center in the nation including Community Health Clinic would have experienced a reduction of up to 70 percent in the federal funding they receive from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The uncertainty had forced some centers to come up with contingency plans. Some were looking at closing sites, laying off employees and reducing hours and services.

“It a good way to start the weekend,” said Jim Willshier, director of policy and partnership for the Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers. Rep. Mike Doyle, D Forest Hills, who represents New Kensington, previously told the Tribune Review that health centers play a big role in the lives of many Americans and are “vital piece of the puzzle.”

In 2016, such centers served nearly 26 million Americans, or 1 in 12 people. Those numbers included 1 in 10 children, 1 in 3 people living in poverty and more than 330,000 veterans.

“If people don have access to these community health centers, then a lot of people are going to lose their access to care,” he previously told the Trib.

Doyle could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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care health clinic to avert financial cliff