KHC uses UV light technology to fight COVID-19 spread

Since the beginning of June, the Knoxville Hospital & Clinics Emergency Department has been using UV lights as an extra measure to help keep their facility virus-free and safe for their patients and residents. The use of the UV lights is so intense that anything the light touches in the room becomes virtually germ-free, including room interiors and PPE, such as the hazmat suits pictured.

KNOXVILLE — Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals around the country are using up-to-date technology to help keep their facilities virus-free and safe for their patients and residents.

At Knoxville Hospital and Clinics (KHC), that extra layer of protection comes in the form of UV lights.

The use of UV lights began in March through a partnership with the Knoxville Fire and Rescue, allowing the KHC Emergency Department staff to take their personal protective equipment (PPE), such as hazmat suits and respirators, to the fire department to be disinfected using the city’s UV lights. Through that process, it became evident how important UV lights are.

“Our hospital administration understood the importance of the UV lights and the level of safety they bring to our facility,” said Wendy Hopkins, KHC ED/Trauma Services Manager. “Their approval to purchase these lights allows us to protect our staff and our facility from these harmful viruses so that we can provide the best care to our community and patients.”

At the beginning of June, the Emergency Department began using their first two UV lights. Each light contains two bulbs and is capable of disinfecting a 300 square-foot room. Two additional larger units, each containing eight bulbs and capable of cleaning 1,200 square feet, have been ordered.

“In these uncertain times, it is reassuring to know we can count on our community partners for support and assistance,” said Kevin Kincaid, KHCCEO. “With the financial assistance received from the Weiler Foundation, we were given the ability to double the number of lights we have onsite to aid in the safety and protection of our staff and patients.”

UV lights are a relatively new weapon against infections and are an added step in the disinfecting process to help protect against unwanted germs. In the process, vertical tubes flood a space with ultraviolet light, disrupting the RNA and DNA at a cellular level of viruses, bacteria and fungi. In turn, it inhibits their ability to multiply.

According to Hopkins, anywhere the light touches becomes virtually germ-free.

Studies have shown that after a terminal clean using standard cleaning processes, some viruses and bacteria remain on surfaces. This number is significantly lessened and, in many cases, completely eliminated after the additional use of the UV lights. While the UV lights add an additional step to ensuring that the room or items are clean and free of viruses and bacteria, Hopkins points out that UV lights do not take the place of humans. KHC staff continues to manually clean and disinfect surfaces as was done prior to the purchase of the UV lights.

Although the UV lights are still new to the facility, the value and importance is already recognizable. Currently, only a few KHC staff are trained to use the UV lights, but with education and the implementation of policies, procedures and education, more staff will become comfortable using the lights.

“The goal is to use the UV lights throughout the facility on a routine basis. People trust us to take care of them when they are sick. We want our patients and community to know they are safe when they come to KHC,” said Hopkins.

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