Fraser Health is adding robots to their arsenal of COVID-19 weapons.
The health authority has announced the purchase of 14 Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) robots that will be used to kill viruses and bacteria in hospitals across the region.
The newcomers will join Fraser Health’s existing two-robot fleet, targeting germs that can linger on surfaces and potentially cause infections.
Staff voted to name two of the robots Bonnie and Henry, after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Altogether they cost approximately $2 million and were partially funded by donations.
According to a press release, the robots work by emitting short pulses of UV light, which damage the DNA and RNA of harmful pathogens, including COVID-19. They can remove viruses and bacteria in as little as 20 minutes, and they light up a room as they clean.
“They may be the flashiest part of the infection team, but the robots don’t work alone,” Fraser Health said.
The robots are controlled by an Environmental Services operator, and their schedules are planned by a hospital’s housekeeping and clinical staff.
They are not meant to replace other forms of disinfection, and they will be used in tandem with traditional and chemical cleaning methods.
“Environmental cleaning is an essential component of our multi-pronged approach to reducing hospital-acquired infections,” said Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin, Fraser Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer, in the release.
“We have made tremendous strides in recent years in enhancing our infection prevention and control practices. UVGI is another layer to keep our patients safe.”