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Alumni Dispatches

Shedding Light on Disinfection Device

Mark Stibich, MHS ’00, PhD ’04

Mark Stibich Health care-associated infections (HAIs) are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. and are a major public health issue globally. Current hospital room cleaning methods are inadequate, leaving patients at serious risk for acquiring an infection from the surfaces in their room. These low-tech methods involve buckets, mops and wipes and have been essentially unchanged for decades.

JHSPH alumnus Julie Stachowiak (PhD, International Health 2004) and I recently founded a company (Xenex Healthcare Services) with the aim of preventing HAIs. Our experience working internationally has exposed us to a wide variety of solutions for public health problems.

In 2010, we launched a portable room disinfection system which uses pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UVC) light to destroy viruses, bacteria and bacterial spores in the patient environment without contact or chemicals. Designed for ease of use and portability, a hospital’s environmental services staff can operate the Xenex device without disrupting hospital operations. As Chief Scientific Officer, I spend much of my time visiting with customers, discussing their infection control initiatives and helping analyze patient outcome results.

The exciting news for me and Julie? It’s working. The device has proven to be effective against a variety of pathogens, including Clostridium difficile endospores (C. diff), MRSA, VRE, and Acinetobacter. A study published last year in ICHE (Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology) showed the Xenex system is consistently 20 times more effective than standard chemical cleaning practices. Our customers have reported a 67 percent reduction in C. diff. infections, a $2.3 million dollar savings from MRSA prevention and more.

We believe that as more forward thinking hospitals adopt this technology, hospitals will become a safer place for patients. Xenex devices are currently in use by dozens of hospitals throughout the U.S. and our goal is to be in more than 200 by the end of 2012.

Mark Stibich is Chief Scientific Officer for Xenex Healthcare Services LLC. For more information: www.xenex.com

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