From our News Partners at WCBD-TV:

Hospital acquired infection is one of DHEC's top public health issues.

The CDC estimates 1.7 million healthcare-associated infections occur in U.S. medical facilities each year, resulting in as many as 99,000 deaths and nearly $20 billion in additional healthcare costs every year.

To help wipe out germs, infection control specialists at the Ralph H Johnson Medical Center are using some new programs, and they seem to be working.

TRU-D or Total Room Ultraviolet Disinfection generates UV light that zaps infectious cells so they can't reproduce, and a cell that cannot reproduce cannot colonize and harm patients. The 5-foot-5-inch bug zapper came to VA hospital last month. Technicians set her up in operating rooms every night and in patient rooms quarterly.

"Anything that light can hit- TRU-D will kill as far as germs go," Brian Tallmadge, Assistant Chief of Environmental Management at the VA, explained. "Anybody could miss something in a room. TRU-D fixes that problem."

Another one of Brian's programs at the VA is the use of DAZO products. Technicians apply an undetectable, florescent gel to 23 high touch objects in the room. Checks are random; housekeepers don't know when they're being monitored. After a room is cleaned, technicians check for germs with a black light.

If the housekeeping missed something, we use it as a teaching tool," Tallmadge explained.

Since implementing this program in 2011, he said cleaning effectiveness increased by 60 percent.  

Another one of his initiatives is hands-free everything in the high traffic restrooms.  From the soap and water to paper towels and even feminine products disposal, everything can be automated is.    

If visitors find the restrooms unkempt, you can text housing immediately.

"Our expectation here is 24 hours a day 15 minutes response," he said.

A spokesperson at the hospital said the plan appears to be working. The Rate of MRSA decreased from last year, and the rate falls below the national average. In South Carolina the rate of MRSA infection continues to climb.

Image courtesy of WCBD-TV.