RARITAN TOWNSHIP — A new germ-fighting robot has been deployed at Hunterdon Medical Center to help the hospital cut down on the serious ongoing threat of hospital-borne infections.

Hunterdon's Director of Infection Prevention, Lisa Rasimowicz, says hospital infections continue to be a serious problem.

"At least 1 out of every 25 hospitalized patients has been developing a health care-acquired infection."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says hospital infections kill hundreds of people in America annually. That is higher than the death toll from AIDS, breast cancer and car accidents combined.

But Hunterdon Medical Center's new robot, officially called the Xenex LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robot, which resembles R2-D2 from "Star Wars," uses ultraviolet light to zap germs and reduce hospital infections.

"The light is turned on in all of the rooms and is able to touch all of the surfaces and kill any of the germs that are left behind on those surfaces. They are destroyed," Rasimowicz says.

"Once those bulbs turn on, there is this bright, bluish light that comes out of the bulbs and it shines on all of the surfaces in the room. Each cycle takes about five minutes and there is a total of two cycles in our intensive care unit," she adds.

"Each of our environmental service workers have been trained on how to use it. It is deployed in patient and operating rooms. This is just one of the strategies that we are using here in the hospital."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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