By Augustus Fei, Erika Peters and Kiara Thomas
Two tech companies, one from Long Island, one from New York, have developed ultraviolet light sanitizing technologies that are expected to be implemented in at least three hospitals by the end of 2019.
Harbor Innovations from Oyster Bay expects to have 100 units of its sanitizing device that targets germs on the bottom of shoes, called FlooRX, produced by June. The company said that agreements are in the works with Mount Sinai Hospital and Northwell Health, but have not yet been finalized. Northwell Health will be using a similar curtain-like device by company PurpleSun that shines UV light on equipment to kill pathogens later this year in Northern Westchester Hospital in Mt. Kisco.
“I’ve always had an aversion to wearing my shoes on my carpeted areas,” Rachel Dombrowsky, the president and CEO of Oyster Bay Senior Campus who thought up the idea, said. “One day, I was in a very filthy bathroom and I decided, that instead of talking about it and thinking about it all the time, I’m going to do something about it.”
Through her 2015 start-up company Harbor Innovations, and a partnership with Smithtown-based MIDI Medical Product Development, the FlooRX design was born.
Resembling a scale, FlooRX works by having users step onto a platform that emits a UV-C LED light, killing healthcare-associated infections. The light FlooRX uses has shown to kill microbes, including C.diff, an intestinal infection that can be terminal, revealed by testing done at Accuratus Lab Services last April.
“I would say that we hope to have those 100 units sold, provided, and installed by the end of the year,” Kobi Benita, CEO of Harbor Innovations, said. Dombrowsky estimated that cost of one unit will fall in the range of $8,000 to $10,000.
Benita said that agreements with several healthcare facilities have not been finalized, but hospitals such as Mt. Sinai and Northwell have shown interest in FlooRX. He also said that FlooRX will be going after markets where germs are a concern such as the food industry, pharmaceuticals, and labs.
The FlooRX will also have decent longevity, Christopher Montalbano, one of the Principals of MIDI Product Development, said.
“If you look at the duty cycle of the industrial applications [of UV LED lights] where they are used 24/7 and only have to be replaced for a couple of years. The duty cycle of our application is very low, only ten seconds per person. If you add that up with the estimated usage pattern, this can easily last for ten years.”
PurpleSun conducted a study last November at the Long Island Jewish Center in New Hyde Park that revealed that their technology killed up to 97.7 percent of pathogens in a 90-second interval.
“I envision a point where all the operating rooms at Northwell will be using PurpleSun at some point,” Jason Molinet, senior director and online news editor at Northwell Health said. “The important first step is just the first one.”
Some professionals think that sanitizing using FlooRX should be the least of their worries.
“Although it can sanitize the floor this is not the primary area of concern for the transmission of infections,” Dr. George Allen, the director of infection control at Brookdale Hospital Medical Center, said. “There are less expensive alternatives that are also effective including regular and terminal cleaning paying special attention to the high touch areas using several available classes of detergents and antimicrobial cleaning and sanitizing agents.”
Allen’s hospital uses an “approved quaternary ammonium product [with] a checklist … to ensure that all the high contact areas are cleaned” and Environmental Protection Agency registered products to clean high touch areas and the floor.
“Many infection control [workers] are skeptical of the floors because we have a lot of indirect evidence that the floor is contaminated,” Dr. Curtis Donskey, the infectious disease specialist at Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said. “We need more research so that’s why people are skeptical [that the floor is contributing to transmission].”
Donksey recalled a study which showed that cleaning multiple rooms with a different mop head made each room less contaminated.
When FlooRX is finally released, Dombrowsky said she would definitely be installing it inside the Oyster Bay Senior Campus.
“I’m going to put first few units straight into the facility,” she said. “Where you come in, where you go out, on every floor, in every unit.”