UV-C Light Technology Gives CHRISTUS St. Vincent an Edge in Fighting Infection August 31, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M.– CHRISTUS St. Vincent is one step closer to winning the war against hospital-acquired infection thanks in part to two new state-of-the-art UV-C disinfection devices.

UV-C light (short wavelength ultraviolet light) disinfection is the latest technology to be used to combat the most challenging microbes in hospitals nationwide. After a contaminated patient room is cleaned and chemically disinfected, a UV-C device is used to neutralize any infectious microbes that might remain. Because of its specific wavelength range, UV-C light is uniquely capable of damaging microorganisms in such a way as to render them incapable of being infectious.

Since 2015, the CHRISTUS St. Vincent’s Clinician Directed Performance Improvement program (CDPI), in partnership with focused-objective hospital-acquired infection task forces, has conducted extensive research to better understand how infections occur within the hospital. Their findings have driven the implementation of advanced protocols for use of central venous catheters, urinary catheterization, use of antibiotics to prevent surgical wound infections, hand hygiene, ceiling-to-floor chemical room disinfection and the early identification, isolation and treatment of incoming patients carrying infectious diseases.

“Hospitals provide essential care, but not without some risk of infection and other complications. All hospitals struggle with this,” says Dr. Lara Goitein, Medical Director of CDPI. “No one wants to minimize that risk more than the doctors and n¬-urses caring for patients every day. CDPI gives our doctors and nurses the data, methods, and resources they need to care for their patients at a systems level, as well as at the bedside.”

Armed with new knowledge, new processes and new technology, hospital teams have placed an emphasis on fighting Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), a particularly menacing pathogen common to hospitals nationwide. C. difficile infections cause inflammation of the colon and severe diarrhea that can be fatal, particularly for patients 65 and older. According to the CDC, half of all hospital patients with C. difficile infections are infected prior to admission and may spread the infection within the facility.

In July of this year, the first full month of using the two new UV-C devices in tandem with new chemical disinfection and patient isolation procedures, CHRISTUS St. Vincent saw zero incidences of hospital- acquired C. difficile.

“This is a huge milestone for CDPI and our C. difficile task force,” says M. Dominick Armijo, Lead Internal Medicine RN for CDPI. “We’re witnessing first-hand how evidence-based, best practice processes can improve patient safety. We’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

CHRISTUS St. Vincent is a private, not-for-profit hospital serving more than 300,000 people in seven counties in Northern New Mexico. CHRISTUS St. Vincent was founded in 1865 by the Sisters of Charity. It is New Mexico's first hospital and the largest private employer in Santa Fe, offering more than 30 specialized services and physician clinics. Our healing ministry is to improve the health & well-being of the communities we serve.