It looks a little like R2-D2 from “Star Wars” – but the device demonstrated Monday at Parkview Mirro Center for Research & Innovation is named Tru-D and fights in a different kind of war.
Tru-D is a new weapon in Parkview Health's battle against bacteria, spores and viruses, as the nation gears up to recover from COVID-19.
The approximately 6-foot-tall, bullet-shaped machine has several ultraviolet light tubes hanging from its dome-like top. It isn't a robot – it stays stationary to do its work.
According to the device's maker, the wavelength of light emitted by the tubes – UVC – kills bacteria and viruses by disrupting their genetic material. That means the organisms can't reproduce, said Dr. R. Scott Stienecker, Parkview infectious diseases specialist.
Parkview uses Tru-D not only to clean operating rooms and patient rooms but also on personal protective equipment, said Dan Malloy, director of corporate environmental services.
Parkview took delivery on two of the portable machines in late March and has been training staff, he said.
UVC light has a wavelength shorter than UVA, found in tanning bed lights, and UVB, which causes sunburn. Studies show UVC light works better as a germicide.
To date, no research proves UVC light is effective against the new coronavirus. But studies are being done, and the virus is not expected to be more resistant than similar viruses, Stienecker said.
Bryan Jacobi, Parkview's environmental services operations manager, said in the case of especially contagious diseases, including COVID-19, Tru-D is used before human cleaners enter a patient's room.
Then, the room is sprayed with a disinfectant and surfaces are cleaned with a duster and a microfiber cloth soaked in hospital disinfectant. Finally, the UVC light is used again, for 15 to 25 minutes for an average-sized room, he said.
The device, whose light tubes glow a bluish-green when activated, can disinfect air as well as surfaces, he said.
One unit is stationed at Parkview Regional Medical Center while another is at Parkview Randallia, he said. The hospital has used other UVC devices in some settings, but the use of Tru-D is new, Malloy said.
UVC light is being investigated for other uses, including disinfecting the interior of unoccupied vehicles. If proven effective, it would be feasible for use in buses and subway cars.
However, too much exposure to wavelengths of UVC light in the 260- to 285-nanometer range used for disinfection can damage eyes and burn skin, according to the World Health Organization.