The Tru-D SmartUVC droid emits ultraviolet light that kills 99.9% of harmful pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, mold and fungus.
SARASOTA — Call her Trudi, the super-bug slaying robot.
Sarasota Memorial Hospital has deployed the 5-foot, 5-inch droid to begin disinfecting rooms used to care for patients with communicable diseases and potentially dangerous infections. She’s been protecting hospitals and clinical spaces since 2007.
The stationary robot, whose nicknames comes from for her model number, Tru-D SmartUVC — short for Total Room Ultraviolet Disinfector — was deployed during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in Africa and is now being used to wipe out germs from people with severe respiratory conditions such as coronavirus and influenza. It was purchased by SMH for $87,000 in 2015.
There are 79 devices in Florida and 610 across the country, says Alice Brewer, director of clinical affairs for Tru-D SmartUVC and a former hospital epidemiologist and infection disease specialist. Sarasota hospitals have three.
The robot disinfects spaces after patients have been discharged and manually cleaned. It disrupts deoxyribonucleic acid and ribonucleic acid of pathogens — bacteria, viruses, mold and fungus — preventing it from replicating or infecting people.
"Manual cleaning only (cleans) about 50% of surfaces," Brewer says.
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Trudi won’t vacuum your floors.
Alice Brewer, director of clinical affairs for Tru-D, said the robot is controlled remotely from a central location inside an empty room. Safety barriers keep ultraviolet rays contained inside the space while the operator activates the no-touch automated system from outside the room.
The robot alerts the user when the cycle is completed.
"Manual cleaning leaves a lot of places there might be germs that could be transmitted to a patient, worker or family member," Brewer said. "Using a UVC (ultraviolet) device like Trudi gets all those surfaces and spaces that may get infected manually."
Trudi is used primarily to clean cracks, crevices and shadowed spaces in high-risk clinical areas, patient rooms and procedural areas.
"We still clean every room by hand, but in higher risk areas, we roll TRU-D into the room to guarantee an extra layer of protection," said SMH Director of Hospitality Services Greg Rosenberger, who oversees the hospital’s environmental services teams after the hospital announced the purchase.
Brewer says about 500 have been sold.
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"You never want to profit from a public health crisis but it increases people’s awareness that places may not be as clean as they like them to be," Brewer said. "It really heightens people’s awareness and understanding that spaces need to be as clean as a hospital."
This story originally published to heraldtribune.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the new Gannett Media network.