The Future Of Medicine Is Here

Whether in fertility or geriatrics, oncology or orthopedics, Fairfield County hospitals and physicians are employing new advances that are transforming the way the medical field is preventing and battling disease. In what are reflections of national and international trends, we present a sample of exciting innovations and applications that are revolutionizing patient care and how diagnosis and treatment are being considered by area hospitals and physicians.


Oncology

Immunology: The New Frontier

When Greenwich resident Barbara Netter and her husband, the late businessman Edward Netter, founded the Stamford-based Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT) in 2001, the field of immunology—harnessing the immune system to attack and kill off cancerous cells—was radically new. “Edward was an innovator and a problem solver,” says Netter. “He understood the potential, but back then … most people were still interested in [the] familiar, like chemotherapy and radiation.”

In the past few years, advances in cancer immunology have proven the Netters’ instincts right, and the field is now the great frontier of cancer research. Some ongoing research into the treatment is taking place in our own backyard. At Stamford Hospital, many of the fifty-six ongoing clinical trials its oncology team is participating in are focused on immunological therapies, some for notoriously stubborn diseases such as lung and pancreatic cancer. “Now we are finding a multitude of ways to get the immune system to fight cancer,” says Dr. Salvatore Del Prete, director of oncology research at Stamford Hospital.

Indeed, one of the early pioneers in immunology is Dr. Richard Edelson, Westport resident and chair of the department of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. He is known for developing photopheresis, a breakthrough immunological treatment for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL), a deadly cancer that originates in the skin. This therapy has subsequently become an effective treatment for graft-versus-host disease (a complication of bone marrow transplants in which donor cells attack a transplant recipient’s body) and helps prevent rejection following heart transplants.

While the research into immunological cancer therapies is vast and rife with questions for researchers, here are two examples of recent advances:

In September 2014 the FDA granted accelerated approval to Keytruda, a drug that blocks a cellular pathway known as PD-1 which restricts the body’s immune system from fighting cancer cells. The drug was offered breakthrough status by the FDA because clinical trials demonstrated it might offer a “substantial improvement” over available therapies in the treatment of advanced melanoma. Late last year Keytruda’s manufacturer, Merck, received similar FDA breakthrough status to use the drug to treat certain non-small cell lung cancers as well. The drug is also being tested on kidney, bladder and other cancers.

An experimental therapy, funded by ACGT grants at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, has produced prolonged remissions for advanced-stage leukemia patients. The patients received CTL019, an immunological therapy developed by ACGT fellow Dr. Carl June that uses the patient’s own T-cells and then genetically engineers them with a cancer-disabling virus. Its success in producing remissions in some patients resulted in an alliance between researchers and drug manufacturer Novartis to work towards fast-tracking the therapy to market.

“The exciting thing here is we are seeing long remissions,” says Dr. Edelson. “In our business, you are very slow to say the word ‘cure,’ but some of the advances we are discovering are game changers.”

Of course, a number of these experimental immunological therapies have side effects, some of them devastating for already vulnerable cancer patients. “So among the questions we are asking ourselves is how we make these drugs even smarter,” says Dr. Del Prete. “That’s really the next phase.”

 On the Horizon

Dr. Edelson envisions a day when “the lines between many medical specialties will be blurred” as doctors collaborate on developing immunology-based therapies for autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.


Fertility

Banking on Babies

Facebook and Apple recently provoked a national conversation when the companies announced they would begin underwriting the expenses of employees interested in freezing their eggs. While some felt these new employee benefits suggested that employees delay childbearing, others opined the companies were recognizing the personal challenges and costs of infertility.

Either way, experts in reproductive medicine say the moves are a bellwether of a trend among Fairfield County women too: Since the American Society of Reproductive Medicine removed its “experimental” label from egg freezing two years ago, some fertility practices have witnessed an uptick in the number of women weighing the pros and cons of harvesting and banking their eggs. In New York City some reproductive medicine specialists have even taken to hosting lavish parties to entice women to spend as much as $10,000 for personal egg banking.

Science is also spurring the movement with the advent of improved cryopreservation techniques that purport to more rapidly freeze eggs, thus preventing the formation of ice crystallization and ultimately improving egg quality and conception rates. “For a long time we’ve been working with women of reproductive age who’ve been diagnosed with cancer who want to [freeze their eggs] before undergoing chemotherapy or radiation,” says Dr. Spencer Richlin, a fertility specialist with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMA), which has offices in Norwalk, Stamford, Trumbull and Danbury. “But now we are seeing women who are giving this serious consideration for social reasons. They are often ambitious women, serious about their careers, who may or may not be in a relationship but don’t want to see the opportunity to bear children slip away.”
While Dr. Richlin cautions that fertility experts “need to be really careful” about the ethics of aggressively marketing egg banking to women in their twenties, the reality is that, “if you are thinking about freezing your eggs as a backup plan, you want to do it sooner rather than later.

On the Horizon

Dr. Richlin expects young women to begin routinely screening their reproductive hormone levels to assess fertility. “Often this was something you didn’t see women doing until there was a problem [conceiving], but now it’s becoming a pro-active thing,” he says.

Managing Multiples

For parents who sought fertility treatments in an effort to conceive, twins, triplets, and on occasion higher-order multiples were the result of interventions intended to stimulate conception. However, the processes of selecting and preparing eggs for implantation for IVF (in vitro fertilization) procedures have evolved in recent years so that multiple births may ultimately become a rarity. “I sometimes joke there are going to be a lot of double strollers at tag sales with no takers,” says Dr. Mark Leondires, a fertility expert with RMA. The following clinical advances are helping to reduce multiple rates with IVF:

Instead of transferring the embryo into the uterus after day one or two of fertilization, doctors can now wait five or six days because of improved cryopreservation. The strategic delay allows doctors to see the inner workings of an embryo, allowing them to transfer fertilized eggs of higher quality. “We are able to pick the very best embryos for transfer, which improves conception rates,” says Dr. Leondires, who notes success rates with single embryo transfer are climbing from about 30 percent to closer to 60 percent.

The advent of comprehensive chromosomal screening technology, a microscopic biopsy that allows fertility specialists to screen embryos for chromosomal abnormalities that can cause birth defects and lower conception rates.

On the Horizon

More prospective parents going through IVF will opt for single embryo transfer, perhaps freezing others for subsequent conception attempts. “Our mantra is one mother, one healthy baby,” says Dr. Leondires.


Neurology

Staying Ahead of Migraines

For decades, treatment for debilitating migraine headaches was focused on making them stop. The new wave of innovative therapies is focused on understanding what triggers migraines in order to prevent them. “The strategy is that when you are ahead of the game, you are always going to be better off,” explains Dr. Charisse Litchman, a Stamford neurologist. “Whether it’s prevention through diet or stress management, stopping a migraine before it starts is the focus now.”

To that end, the FDA last March approved Cefaly, a Belgian-made, battery-operated headband device that provides transcutaneous electrical current stimulation intended to prevent migraines by stimulating trigeminal nerve branches. Used twenty minutes a day, Dr. Litchman says, “It seems to be effective in helping [some] avoid migraines.”

And last year, researchers unveiled two potential medications derived from genetically engineered antibodies that may have the potential to block migraines. Still, Dr. Litchman notes these potentially game-changing drug therapies, though in early clinical trials, have yet to undergo extensive trials and be vetted through the stringent FDA approval process.

In the meantime, the clinical focus of some migraine experts continues to be on helping patients identify migraine triggers and manage those using a combination of currently available medications with attention to lifestyle. “We know diet plays a huge role: Caffeine, peanut butter, nuts and alcohol can all be culprits. Sleep is [also] vital.”

Helpful Hint

Dr. Litchman notes reaching for over-the-counter or prescription migraine medications too often can lead to developing a “medication overload effect,” which can ultimately lead to more migraines.


Genomic Therapy

Making Cancer More Personal

Look at cancer cells under a microscope and that cancer may look a lot like the cancer of another person with the same diagnosis. But, as Dr. Richard Frank, director of cancer research at Norwalk Hospital’s Whittingham Cancer Center explains, a closer look at the two cancers’ genetic components may reveal that they are more like two sets of human fingerprints, more distinct than similar. The fact that the same cancers can have genetic differences, “explains, for example, why with some cancer treatments you get great responses with some people and very different responses with others.”

Thus the advent of a new era of personalized, patient-specific treatments for cancer, where an individual’s genetic makeup is being used to unravel the exact biology of their tumors and attack them in the most precise patient-specific way possible.

Locally, Norwalk Hospital is part of a multisite national signature study in partnership with the pharmaceutical company Novartis that is offering some 400 different medications designed to target specific genetic components in patients suffering from an array of devastating cancers. As of this writing, six Norwalk Hospital patients were among some 300 patients being studied at hospitals across the country.

What types of patients and cancers can benefit from this personalized approach? “It runs the gamut,” says Dr. Frank. “We’re working with breast, colon, lung, and the blood cancers including leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.”

Results, to date, have included hopeful remissions in some patients with advanced stage cancers. “I’m not saying cures,” cautions Dr. Frank, “but we’ve seen tumor shrinkage. What’s been exciting is that you’ve got a bad cancer and your options have been winding down, [but] this has offered people options, given them hope and perhaps more importantly, time.”

On the Horizon

Expect some of the data collected from local patients to be part of published studies that could have a long-term impact on the development of personalized cancer medications.

Relating Genes To Depression Therapy

There’s a small, but growing population of mental health experts who are pairing the DNA-based science with how they prescribe psychiatric medications.

Dr. Sandy Gomez-Luna, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, has been using genetic testing to help find the best possible medications for patients suffering from emotional disorders such as depression. “We are learning from genetics that there can be really wide variations in how someone metabolizes medicine,” says Dr. Gomez-Luna. Some clinically depressed patients with similar symptoms may respond favorably to a certain antidepressant, she explains, but others may be overwhelmed by the drug’s side effects, diminishing the overall benefit.

Using check swabs to analyze a patient’s DNA for clues can tell doctors if they have the enzymatic receptors that will allow them to benefit from commonly prescribed drugs such as Lexapro or Prozac, or if those medications are a bad fit. “Almost always when I’ve had a patient tell me about some awful side effect they’ve had and I’ve done this kind of testing, the results are matching up to the experience,” she says, adding that testing, though not foolproof, does give her better insight into what will probably work best. “And when you get the patient on the right medication right away, you are bypassing some of the trial and error that can be involved in getting patients the right medication.”

On the Horizon

Dr. Gomez-Luna notes this area of psychopharmacology, while not mainstream, is gaining acceptance as ongoing clinical research points to its merits. “The real key going forward will be getting insurance companies who are willing to pay for testing, which could happen someday if we are able to quantify through research that it makes a difference in treatment outcomes,” she says.


Geriatrics & Aging

One Hundred Candles

Since 2011, when the first baby boomers turned sixty-five, they’ve been reaching that milestone at the rate of 10,000 a day. That’s 70,000 sixty-five-year-olds a week. By December 31, 2029, our nation will have more than 70 million senior baby boomers who are eligible for Social Security. What that means for the future of the treatment of the elderly, whose life expectancy will reach 100 by 2087, is a complicated challenge for geriatric experts like Dr. Steven Jones, director of Greenwich Hospital’s Center for Healthy Aging.

Of course, Dr. Jones notes, some seniors are lucky to live better, longer lives, and experience the joy of reaching a centenary birthday. “But we are moving into an era where old age is the norm and we have to grapple with that from a social, economic and medical perspective,” he says. “There will be more cancer, more Alzheimer’s, more heart disease, more orthopedic issues as these are all primarily diseases of aging.”

Because of this, Dr. Jones hopes for more thoughtful planning on how the medical profession cares for elders, including developing additional aging services like At Home in Greenwich that promote keeping seniors safe, healthy and happy in their homes.

There will also need to be more doctors skilled in treating advanced-aged seniors. Currently there is a shortage of fellowship-trained geriatrics specialists says Dr. Jones. And rates of doctors seeking geriatrics training have recently declined by about 50 percent, more than in any other specialty.

One reason for the declining ranks, he explains, is the current state of insurance reimbursement rates; geriatrics, compared to other specialties, is a relatively poorly compensated area. “It takes a lot longer to treat a ninety-year-old than a forty-year-old,” he says. “Insurance tends to presume you spend about fifteen minutes with a patient, but seeing someone with a lot of issues should and does take so much longer.”

On the Horizon

Dr. Jones proposes a “geriatric corps” program to entice doctors to consider geriatrics fellowships in much the same way teachers have been enticed to work in underserved urban centers.

 

Orthopedics

The Fix Is In

There are reasons why broken bones may not heal properly. After a major trauma, a small fracture might be overlooked in a body wracked with serious injuries, or a sports injury might be mistaken for a sprain. Those improperly healed bones, something orthopedists call a ‘malunion,’ can cause eventual pain and dysfunction. “Sometimes, the range of motion isn’t the same; you’ll have a wrist that’s lost its ability to bend,” explains Dr. Mark Vitale, an orthopedic surgeon with ONS in Greenwich and Greenwich Hospital. These malunions demand a surgical fix but until recently those repairs were challenging. Dr. Vitale explains orthopedists long relied on X-rays to determine how to best approach the surgical mending. “We were using two-dimensional images to function in a three-dimensional space.”

That’s changed with the recent advent of three-dimensional images, combined with computer guided imagery, to give surgeons what Dr. Vitale describes as a “millimeter by millimeter approach” to fixing bones with precision.

Here’s how it works: Orthopedists use CT scans to compare the malunion to a patient’s normal bone. This data provides a surgeon with custom instrumentation and cutting guides, allowing for bones to be reconstructed to match, in shape and size, a normal one. “Even in the most complex cases, it’s made what was once extremely difficult relatively easy to do,” Dr. Vitale says. The results include improved surgical outcomes, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery times.

On the Horizon

The three-dimensional imaging technology that’s now helping orthopedists repair joints has the potential to also surgically address pain related to arthritis and spine deformities.

Joints Inside & Out

For several years now the hot topic in cartilage repair has been stem cell therapies: using biological material from humans to grow healthy new tissue in damaged joints. But so far it’s been a complicated path to developing the technology that could offer patients with trauma and osteoarthritis an alternative to, say, joint replacement. “There are a lot of unknowns but [stem cells] have a lot of potential for therapies,” says Dr. Demetrius Delos, an orthopedic surgeon with ONS.

Currently there’s a pioneering concept being tested aggressively. It involves placing stem cells near damaged tissue and implanting tiny scaffolds where the cells can safely attach and proliferate. Until recently there had been an experimental focus on simply placing stem cells near damaged cartilage. “But the cells don’t always do what you want them to do,” explains Dr. Delos, noting the implanted materials have been known to migrate to areas where they’re not wanted. “The idea now is that the scaffold will help them grow in such a way that they stay where we want them to be and ultimately create the kind of sophisticated matrix of material you see in a healthy knee joint.”

While the innovation is ripe with potential, the technology isn’t on the fast track stateside, with most of the research taking place in Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand. One reason is federal regulation. Dr. Delos has seen estimates indicating it could take as much as $500 million to investigate and navigate these stem cell/scaffolding methods through the rigorous FDA approval process. Still, “I see the technology coming down the line and once it’s improved and refined, there are so many other potential applications,” says
Dr. Delos.


Patient Care

The Doctor Is In

These days, a growing number of private medical practices, including several in Fairfield County, have adopted a concierge approach to patient care. Typically, patients who buy into a concierge concept pay a pre-set annual fee (usually starting at several thousand dollars a year) in exchange for unlimited access to a doctor’s expertise via text, email, phone, and home and office visits. While concierge practices are a growing trend (Concierge Medicine Today estimates there are currently 12,000 physicians who’ve opted into variations of the practice model), so, too, are practices committed to the idea of making total health more accessible. Here are a few future-focused strategies offered locally.

The Medical Ombudsman

Dr. Donald Stangler, a Darien-based concierge practitioner, has also branched into the relatively new role of medical ombudsman. In that capacity, he acts as a personal clearinghouse for his patients and clients, some who have chronic medical conditions that require treatment by multiple specialists. As their ombudsman, Dr. Stangler takes on a role of personal medical coordinator and health advisor, offering patients services ranging from secure electronic medical record databases covering a patient’s complete care to thoughtful second opinions of treatment plans and medications. “I’m someone who can help them ask the right questions, communicate with their doctors, talk with the insurance company,” he explains, adding that a patient can purchase ombudsman services separately from concierge offerings. “My role is to see the big picture of their health care and how their conditions relate to one another.”

While Dr. Stangler notes that some critics view concierge medicine as a way for doctors to opt out of dealing with insurance companies, he says the appeal for many practitioners (including himself) is more about the way they engage with patients. “It allows us to practice medicine in a more personal, meaningful way,” he says.

The MultiDisciplinary Practice

Psychotherapist Maud Purcell was frustrated when the answer to the dilemmas of her talk therapy patients required they takes steps beyond her couch. “Sometimes, there was a need to take action or access another professional who could help them take that next step,” she says. But busy lives and personal complications often got in the way. “In some cases, [patients] didn’t have the time to access the resources they needed. I began to think, ‘What if we all were working closer together?’”

In 2009 she formed the Life Solution Center of Darien and invited a team of independent professionals—with specialties ranging from psychiatry and nutrition to financial management and concierge medicine—to offer a multidisciplinary approach to life’s health challenges. “I think what we’ve created here is a model for how people will access the care and support and guidance they need in the future,” she says.


Dermatology & Cosmetic Medicine

The Selfie Sensation

According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), the ubiquitous selfies are driving aesthetic procedures right now. That’s right. People are checking out their Facebook and Instagram profiles and flocking to cosmetic medical experts seeking tweaks. From nose jobs to eye lifts and dermal fillers, an AAFPRS poll last year indicated that one in three plastic surgeons reported their patients’ social media profiles prompted cosmetic interventions.

“Bridal bling selfies” among brides and brides-to-be are also increasing demand for aesthetic treatments on hands. “The hands are [among] the first places to show sun damage, sagging and age,” explains Dr. Dana Brownell. The aesthetics specialist and medical director of Westport MediSpa has developed a protocol targeted at the hands, combining Fraxel laser therapy to rejuvenate and Ulthera ultrasound therapy to tighten sagging skin. “I’m not just using it on brides but on mothers of the brides,” she notes.

Eternal Youth

There are men and women in their twenties and thirties seeking injections of neurotoxins, such as Botox and Dysport, to proactively prevent deeper wrinkles as they age. In 2013 the AAFPRS reported that more than half of its members saw an increase in patients younger than age thirty seeking such injected therapies. “Certainly, they don’t have the kind of wrinkles that demand a major intervention yet, but if they use a little it can prevent their formation,” says Dr. Jason McBean of Fairfield Dermatology, who dubs the trend the “Baby Botox” wave.

Revolutionizing Fillers

The popularity of injected neurotoxins and dermal fillers is rising says plastic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Rosenthal, former director of plastic surgery at Bridgeport Hospital and founder of Rosenthal Cosmetic Surgery & Skin Care Center in Fairfield. He attributes this to the desire of his patients to take the least invasive route possible to the fountain of youth, and notes that the proliferation of such procedures has given aesthetics experts and their patients a viable alternative to surgery. “All of these innovations have given us the ability to sculpt, lift and contour in ways we once might not have imagined possible. It’s a big revolution and one that will continue to change how we treat cosmetic alteration.”

In the future Dr. Rosenthal sees innovations focused on how long fillers last and transforming how they are cultivated. “The downside of all these things is the frequency [in which] you need them… I think there’s going to be a demand to see things that don’t need to be done so often.” How long? “Something like two years might be ideal and even possible,” says Dr. Rosenthal. Still, he stresses there’s also a “downside” to dermal fillers that last “too long.” The actual benefit of “fillers is that they are temporary and you can make adjustments over time to address the natural aging process. A permanent filler would probably be something most people would come to regret over time.”

On the Horizon

Dr. Rosenthal predicts research and development focused on creating “self-generated” fillers cultivated from one’s own stem cells to create injectable face plumpers. “Plastic surgery has always been at the advent of stem cell research, and now the thinking is [whether] we can isolate fat cells and find a way to inject them back into the body.” He also notes that while the idea of using stem cells is intriguing, research, is ongoing. Indeed, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery recently noted that while some doctors already claim to offer stem cell transplant “face lifts,” they are not a legitimate protocol yet.

Bye-Bye Hair Dye

In the old days the question with hair color used to be, “Does she or doesn’t she?” In the future, the question may be whether we can avoid the graying of our tresses altogether, simply by popping a pill. Cosmetic maker L’Oreal has announced plans to bring to market later this year a pill containing a fruit extract that acts on the proteins that stimulate melanin (or color) in hair follicles, keeping locks their original hue. But don’t toss your hair dye just yet: While a lot isn’t known about the product, “One thing that’s clear [is that] it’s not something that’s going to work for people whose hair has already begun to turn gray and are already in the business of coloring their hair,” says
Dr. Jason McBean.

Doubling Down

Right now, the most effective option for anyone seeking to be rid of a thick, droopy chin has been the surgical knife. Now in late-stage clinical trials is ATX-101, a purified, synthetic version of deoxycholic acid, and it’s being heralded for its potential to target submental fat—the unsightly layer that creates that “double chin” effect—and obliterate it, while leaving the surrounding tissue unaffected. Its manufacturer, California-based Kythera Pharmaceuticals, is in the process of seeking FDA approval for the treatment, which when administered in a series of injections over a period of several months, can contour and smooth the chin area.

Dr. Omar Ibrahimi, a Harvard-trained dermatologist and founder of the Connecticut Skin Institute in Stamford, says he’s excited about the prospect of offering ATX-101 therapy to patients who want to avoid surgery, but find the state of their chins, well, a downer. “The data, so far, looks very encouraging and there’s much more minimal downtime than with surgery,” he says. “It’s also the kind of thing I love because it’s in keeping with the trend in cosmetic therapies now, which is to look for less invasive options.”

On the Horizon

Based on current progress, Dr. Ibrahimi predicts ATX-101 treatments could be available to consumers by late 2015 or early 2016.

More Volume, Less Pain

When Belotero hit the market in 2011, it generated considerable buzz as the first facial filler with the capacity to soften those stubborn lip lines commonly associated with smoking and pronounced facial expressions. Belotero’s second claim to fame was that it didn’t create a blue-like effect when injected under the thin mouth-area skin (which had been a problem with some other dermal fillers). Terry Conrad, APRN, and founder of the aesthetics practice NaturallYou in Greenwich, says that for some of her patients, a little Belotero is “like the icing on the cake. They loved the way it softens the look around their mouth area.” The downside? “It can hurt. There’s just not a lot of fat around the mouth. So even when we use a numbing cream, it’s a little more painful to take than some of the other fillers we use in other parts of the face.”

On the Horizon

Belotero is now being made with pain-numbing lidocaine, and this month Restylane Silk, a thin hyaluronic acid designed for injection around the lip area (it also contains the pain reliever), hits the market as well.


Technology

Saying “Ah” To Technology

F rom Fitbits to the Kinsa, technology is helping us connect to healthier lives. Some local health care institutions are jumping on the technology bandwagon too, in
an effort to make patient interactions more health-smart.

Here’s how:

Since July ambulatory surgery patients at Greenwich Hospital may have select family members updated on their status via secure text messages sent from its health-care team as part of its Family Touch notification system. The idea is to keep designated loved ones in the loop during stressful periods immediately following a medical procedure. “Studies have proven that clear and open communication between patients, caregivers and family members plays an important role in an outstanding patient experience,” explains Christine Beechner, RN, vice president of patient and guest relations at Greenwich Hospital.

In an effort to cut tedious waits in waiting rooms, St. Vincent’s Medical Center offers PlanMyCare.com, which gives prospective patients at its urgent care walk-in centers in Fairfield, Bridgeport, Monroe and Stratford a virtual glimpse at available appointment times. Patients can even fill out paperwork in advance. “It’s like getting in the express line for the waiting room by giving you the convenience of knowing when the doctor will see you,” says Kathleen Woods, executive director of St. Vincent’s Urgent Care Centers.

Stamford Hospital is investigating whether to establish “telehealth” portals or kiosks at select Fairfield County locations where the public could be connected to a medical professional who can answer questions and direct them to services. As of this writing, plans are still in the investigative phase, says Kathy Silard, the hospital’s COO.

Germ-Zapping Robots

It may sound space age, but now there are Xenex robots zapping ultraviolet lights at infections in hospital rooms, using UV-light technology to spread pulsed light as a way to kill off the bacteria associated with infections such as C. difficile and MRSA, and other stubborn germs.

Stamford Hospital has been using two Xenex robots for the past eighteen months as a supplement to its normal room sterilization procedures, which still include hands-on disinfectant scrubbing by staffers. “With all the problems associated with these emerging, multi-resistant infections, there’s an interest in finding new ways of disinfecting surfaces to the highest degree possible,” explains Dr. Michael Parry, director of infectious diseases at Stamford Hospital. “This is intriguing to us because we felt like it adds another layer of protection.”
In a recent issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla reported a 20 percent reduction in certain virulent infections in rooms where the Xenex technology was used.

 

 

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