How St. Elizabeth Healthcare uses technology to keep hospitals sanitized

UVC lights, germicide sprayers and more
Posted at 6:26 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 19:26:47-04

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.

EDGEWOOD, Ky. — St. Elizabeth Healthcare uses several methods to kill viral material in its examination rooms and hospitals in order to prevent the spread of disease.

The Northern Kentucky health network's infectious disease response team have been practicing a plan to combat the spread of diseases like coronavirus for years.

That includes Environmental Services Supervisor Teresa Cecil, who works every day to keep patient rooms clean and safe.

"I trust that the hospital has given us the tools we need to protect everybody," she said.

Among those tools: a patented vacuum that cleans particles as small as one-one-hundredth of a human hair, targeting dust that can harbor pathogens.

“On a daily basis, we vacuum every patient room, floors and ceilings,” said Environmental Services System Director Matthew Patterson.

Two times a shift, crews use an electrostatic sprayer to apply germicide approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Crews apply this germicide in common areas, lobbies, public restrooms, elevators and other high-traffic areas.

St. Elizabeth staff also use UVC systems which emit virus-killing ultraviolet light in isolation rooms, on wheelchairs and on other ways patients move around.

“It smells almost like a tanning bed ... That means it did its job – it burned up micro-organisms in this room,” he said.

After the deep clean, they test surfaces to make sure the processes worked.

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:


  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.


  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.


  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail
  • See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms, but it can be spread even at asymptomatic stages.