Published on April 27, 2020

NMMC Using Disinfecting Technology in COVID-19 Fight

North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo has ramped up the use of some extremely powerful decontaminating technology during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been able to continue using technology we already had in place and see its great value as a safety measure during the pandemic,” said Dr. Malinda Prewitt, an infectious disease physician at NMMC-Tupelo. “We’re very fortunate that NMMC’s Administration has been supportive of this technology, which is not inexpensive, from the get-go.”

Bioquell

Bioquell technology being used in patient room

North Mississippi Medical Center uses Bioquell decontaminating technology to clean a patient room, procedure room or surgical suites after a patient under isolation precautions leaves that area.

Nurse practitioner Julie McCord, director of infection prevention for North Mississippi Health Services, explained that Bioquell, a hydrogen peroxide vapor system used hospital-wide to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria, viruses and more, has been used at NMMC since 2011 with great results. After a patient under isolation precautions leaves a patient room, procedure room or surgical suite, staff clean that area according to general cleaning protocols.

“We have a very strong Environmental Services team who cleans what is visibly soiled,” Dr. Prewitt said. “The hydrogen peroxide vapor can permeate other places, not just high-touch surfaces, and eliminate what we’re not able to see with the naked eye.”

After cleaning, the room is prepared for disinfecting and appropriately sealed. Using a control panel from outside the room, the Bioquell technician uses hydrogen peroxide vapor. This process takes about an hour and a half. Every surface is decontaminated—wall to wall, ceiling to floor.

Chris Robins taping off room for Bioquell

Chris Robbins seals off a patient room for cleaning with a hydrogen peroxide vapor. The process takes about an hour and a half leaving every surface decontaminated.

“You get an environment free of any bacteria and viruses that could be present on surfaces,” McCord said. “Once the process is over, it’s safe to occupy the room again. This is a wonderful, safe process that we have had extremely good outcomes with over the years. It has served us well to help protect our patients, visitors and staff.”

Dr. Prewitt points to a recent National Institutes of Health study comparing three decontamination methods for N95 respirator masks. The study concluded that VHP (vaporized hydrogen peroxide) was the most effective method because no virus could be detected after only a 10-minute treatment.

NMMC routinely uses Bioquell in patient care areas, including those that house COVID-19 patients. As NMMC looks to offer elective surgeries and other procedures that are not currently available by state order, the hospital’s surgical suites, heart catheterization labs and other procedure areas will be cleaned with Bioquell.

Surfacide

Holly Miller using Surfacide

Holly Miller remotely operates the Surfacide unit outside a heart catheterization lab at NMMC-Tupelo.

Since 2016, NMMC-Tupelo has also been using Surfacide to kill superbugs (strains of bacteria or viruses that are drug resistant) that can live on solid surfaces within the hospital. Holly Miller, director of Environmental Services at North Mississippi Health Services, explains that
Surfacide uses powerful UV-C light, stronger than the normal ultraviolet light that we get from the sun, to disrupt the DNA of bacteria and viruses.

Surfacide offers a second layer of protection for patients and staff who occupy a procedure room, surgical suite or hospital room after a patient under isolation precautions has left it. NMMC has three Surfacide cleaning units at the main hospital and one at Women’s Hospital.

“We have a three-step fail safe process in rooms where a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patient has been,” Miller said. “First the room is thoroughly cleaned by the Environmental Services team. Then we do a second step cleaning using Surfacide.”

Surfacide being used in a Cath Lab

NMMC uses decontaminating technology to kill superbugs that can live on solid surfaces within the hospital. Surfacide offers a second layer of protection for patients and staff who occupy a procedure room, like the hospital’s heart catheterization labs.

The Environmental Services team member sets up the emitters in a triangle inside the room, then exits the room and sets the controls on a tablet using Bluetooth technology. “Lasers scan the room and map out all the surfaces to clean before it starts running,” Miller said. “The Surfacide cleaning cycle takes about 25 minutes.”

Once this process is complete, the Environmental Services team does a third step using an ATP cleaning verification system. This technology checks for adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the universal unit of energy in all living cells. “All of the North Mississippi Health Services hospitals use ATP to immediately determine if surfaces are truly clean,” Miller said. Once assured every surface is disinfected, it is safe to occupy the room again immediately.

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