Ozone cleaning system answers superbug crisis
11 October 2007
A major city hospital in the UK has become the first in
the National Health Service (NHS) to invest in a revolutionary cleaning
system that helps reduce the environmental reservoir of resistant organisms
such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile.
York Hospital has installed the OTEX laundry system for microfibre cloths
and mops as part of a new innovation plan developed in preparation for
Domestic Services going back inhouse after being contracted out for 14
years. A major aspect of the plan was the introduction of a new microfibre
system that proved to be a contributing factor to a dramatic improvement in
the hospital’s cleaning standards.
The OTEX system and other new measures
have been quick to pay dividends. Results of regular internal audits to
check cleanliness levels have improved significantly and have registered
‘scores’ of up to 96%.
There are mounting concerns in the NHS about hospital-acquired infections,
including the recent news over 90 deaths in hospitals in Kent, where police
are reported to be investigating whether prosecutions should be brought. The
National Audit Office estimates hospital-acquired infections contribute to
about 5,000 deaths annually.
Facilities management companies serving seven other NHS trusts were
already successfully using OTEX in hospitals, but York became the first
hospital to introduce the system as part of a cleaning operation staffed by
its own personnel.
"There had been a lot of talk within the NHS about microfibre mops and
cloths, which basically act like magnets for bacteria and dust," says
domestic manager Wendy Dale.
"We spent two months assessing which types of microfibre were most
effective and during that period it became clear that it was essential for
the fibre to be thoroughly cleaned. The decision to bring our domestic
services inhouse and the increased financial investment couldn’t have been
"JLA were recommended to us by the detergent specialists
Ecolab and were invited on site to discuss our requirements to set up our
own on-site laundry facilities within our available funds. JLA assisted in
identifying the most suitable place to locate a laundry. They produced
CAD/CAM designs for the laundry and, based on the numbers of mops and cloths
we processed, calculated how many machines we would need and what capacities
they should be.
"What impressed us most was JLA’s OTEX system. The
combination of the system’s ability to thoroughly disinfect and the costs it
saves was a major factor when it came to choosing JLA as our supplier."
the NHS, thermal disinfection has traditionally been the preferred method of
processing foul or infected laundry. But scientific tests by independent
microbiologists Microsearch Laboratories have shown that it is ineffective
against the Clostridium difficile superbug.
difficile is now a bigger killer than MRSA, with figures released by the
Health Protection Agency last year indicating that it was seven times more
One Microsearch test focused on a mop that had been used in a
healthcare environment other than York Hospital. Microsearch microbiologists
thermally disinfected the mop — only to find that it was still teeming with
150,000 Clostridium difficile colonies.
In contrast, further tests by Microsearch proved that the OTEX system,
which injects ozone — a powerful natural disinfectant 3,200 times more
effective than chlorine — into the wash process, is able to destroy
Clostridium difficile spores along with other micro organisms including
MRSA on all wash cycles.
Another major benefit is that OTEX uses mostly
cold water and faster wash cycles, dramatically reducing utility and
detergent costs and cutting labour bills by saving time.
"OTEX has proved to be extremely effective, both in terms of making savings
and disinfecting," says Wendy. "Our laundry is in operation round the clock
seven days a week, processing over 4,000 microfibre mops and cloths a day,
so being able to save energy was vital.
"JLA actually metered the electricity supply to the laundry and established
that OTEX was saving us 82% compared to a conventional laundry. An added
bonus was that we are now only using half as much detergent because of the
way the system processes laundry."
"Our weekly internal audits involve
different teams carrying out hygiene checks in all areas of the hospital and
using three colours to score them — red, amber and green. Red is poor, amber
acceptable and green good or better.
"Since we introduced microfibre and OTEX, the difference has been
significantly improved. The weekly green scores have been as high as 96% and
on many weeks there have been no red scores at all."
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