Riverwood purchases UV machine, continues safety measures

Several Riverwood environmental services employees with the Xenex UV machine

A new disinfecting tool is on the frontline of Riverwood Healthcare Center’s COVID-19 response. Using ultraviolet light, the robot-like UV machine disinfects patient rooms and treatment areas with known or suspected patient contact with the virus.

Before purchasing the Xenex UV system in May, Riverwood began using a rental machine in April to disinfect the emergency department, hospital rooms, radiology and surgery areas. In addition, urgent care and other clinic rooms with potential for contamination with airborne droplets are disinfected with the new UV machine.

“Given the contagious nature of COVID-19, Riverwood sought to take an extra step to disinfect patient rooms and potentially contaminated treatment areas,” said Julie Goshey, infection preventionist at Riverwood. “Our environmental services staff is calling the UV robot ‘Violet’ as the machine is now an integral part of our team and what we do to promote patient safety.”

Following their use, the surfaces in patient rooms and treatment areas are first wiped down with sanitizing cloths. Then the UV machine is brought in to expose the entire area to ultraviolet light in several cycles of 5 to 10 minutes. For example, the disinfection process for sanitizing a hospital patient room takes three 5-minute cycles, while only one to two 5-minute cycles are needed for smaller clinic exam rooms. The disinfection of larger rooms, such as an operating room or radiology treatment room, will take one or two cycles of 10 minutes.

Published research has shown that UV systems are effective in reducing bacterial and viral contamination in the air and on surfaces.

“We urge individuals to not delay critical care, to come to the clinic or hospital for all urgent health needs,” said Dr. David Taylor, Riverwood’s chief medical officer. “The extra safety precautions we’ve put in place are doing a good job of protecting everyone. We are fortunate to have a low incidence of COVID-19 in Aitkin County at this time, but it’s still important to continue frequent, thorough handwashing; keeping a 6-foot social distance from others; and wearing a mask when out in public.”

Some of those safety precautions include screening for COVID-19 symptoms at hospital and clinic entrances. At Riverwood’s Aitkin facility during the first week in June, some changes were made for entrance screening to provide more consistency and clarity for patients.

The main entrance, marked with a YELLOW sign, is designated for use by urgent care and emergency care patients only. All other patients will use the Therapy Services entrance, marked with a BLUE sign. Surgery patients will use the Ryan Wing Support Services entrance, marked with a GREEN sign.

To limit the number of people and potential exposure to COVID-19 Riverwood continues to restrict hospital and clinic visitors. Hospital patients are not allowed a visitor unless they are getting end-of-life care or have special needs for a compassionate exception, such as a parent with a child or a partner for a woman delivering a baby. Those coming in for clinic visits or medical tests cannot be accompanied by a family member or others unless there is an urgent need to do so.

To provide an option for face-to-face communication with loved ones for our hospital patients, Riverwood now has five iPads that our hospital nursing staff will help set up for video conversations via Zoom, which can be done via cell phone or computer. The Riverwood Foundation funded the iPads purchase.

Riverwood continues to welcome calls about symptoms and testing via its Coronavirus Helpline, 1-844-428-1323, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. COVID-19 updates, including KKIN Radio interviews with Dr. David Taylor and Dr. Paul Severson, are posted at https://riverwoodhealthcare.org/covid-19/