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Southwest Healthcare Services has added a new weapon to its never-ending battle to keep the medical facility in Bowman as clean as possible.

The facility now has Tru-D to help disinfect the rooms in the facility using ultraviolet light.

The tall cylindrical electronic system has a series of ultraviolet lights arranged vertically around its exterior surface, which emit the ultraviolet light at a wavelength designed to kill bacteria and other infectious organisms. It arrived Jan. 21 in Bowman and was immediately put to use, according to LaToya Buzalsky, a registered nurse at the facility.

“We initiated its utilization that day.” she explained. “It was pre-assembled. It came in a very large wooden crate, and the (company) representative was able to un-crate it out front and roll it into the facility.”

After a few minutes to warm up because it had been out in the cold, the machine from Memphis was ready, she said. “After 10 to 15 minutes to warm up from the cold, we were able to use it right away. The representative taught us how to use the android tablet (to control it). We taught it how to use the tablet and we were ready to roll.”

The device came to Bowman ready to use out of the box, she explained.

“The device already had certain employee’s named entered into it.” Members of the staff had already done some in-person training with the company representative, she said. “We watched the video and then he (the customer representative) showed us hands-on. It literally is a couple of clicks and a couple of taps with your finger on the tablet and it is good to go.”

She added that the machine is very user-friendly.

“I have used it many, many times and I haven’t found a way to mess it up yet,” Buzalsky said, with a chuckle.

The machine works by emitting concentrated UV (ultraviolet) light and affects the DNA structure of infectious organisms, she explained. “It renders the cells ineffective.”

The machine can quickly be set up to clean a small room with one treatment, but other rooms may need to be exposed from several different locations to clean it properly.

“You click on the tablet and you are good to go. The time depends on the room size.

“On top of Tru-D is what we call her brain. On her brain she has eight sensors that before disinfection actually starts, she will use those sensors to determine the amount of UV light needed and for how long,” the nurse explained.

“In the bigger rooms, it uses one of two disinfectant cycles. One is much more concentrated and another is the bacteria cycle, which is not as long or as concentrated,” she said. “It has taken as long as 45 minutes. You can adjust the placement of Tru-D and that would help the time a little bit.

“For some of our exam rooms … it took less than 10 minutes. This process handles everything in the room except for cloth materials. The UV light does not penetrate cloth materials... we just remove any linens on the bed before we start the process.”

The beds don’t need to be removed before the process and the systems works with cupboards that are open, she said.

“The cupboards and the doors don’t have to be open all the way. Think of UV light as ‘energized bouncy balls’ that bounce from Tru-D and bounce everywhere that they haven’t been before. If the cupboard doors are slightly open, those energized bouncy balls are going to bounce into that,” Buzalsky said.

The machine can be rolled easily from room to room for cleaning and has been used for about five to six rooms each day.

“I didn’t realize how smart she (Tru-D) is until she got here. I was really impressed with how simple it is to use this device.”

According to Buzalsky, in larger rooms like the chapel, there would be three locations where Tru-D would be set up to completely clean the room. “It would take a total of an hour to have true disinfection.”

The staff follows the same protocols they have had for cleaning up, but with Tru-D they are picking up anything the human cleaners may have missed, she said. “It is taking away the worry and making sure there are no germs left behind.

According to the staff, the addition of Tru-D is taking the quality of the cleanup to the next level.

There are no current plans to add another unit to the cleanup, but time will tell.

Using UV light to handle disinfection on a large scale in a medical facility is still fairly new and will involve a lot of testing, a SWHS spokesman said.

The unit has its’ own Wi-Fi system and can receive software updates.

“We were look at what else could we do to insure the safety and the health of the patients with this infection (COVID) going.

“We were doing a great job. It’s just how can we take this further and what can we do better,” Buzalsky said as to motivation for purchasing the machine. “We are consistently looking for ways to do things better. After much research and a presentation brought in for us … we felt that Tru-D was the best fit for our facility.

“Even before COVID, we were looking for better ways to do things,” the nurse explained. One benefit of being a more rural facility is that it gave the facility more time to research both the machine and the need for it.

“I have had an interest in infection prevention since nursing school,” Buzalsky added.

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