Danbury, Conn.-based Spectra254 is allowing hospitals that are treating Ebola patients to borrow its technology, which typically costs about $40,000, for a period of time. “As a participant in this space, we felt an obligation to assist,” said Sanford Green, the company's president. The company also has received an order from the World Health Organization for use of its technology in clinics in western Sierra Leone, where the CDC has banned nonessential travel because of the severity of the outbreak.
Two of Spectra254's products, which use high-output UVC bulbs to kill pathogens, are designed for hospital rooms while a third was created for medical transportation.
Hospital personnel are undergoing increased training about Ebola prevention, Green said, and “that's brought to light that there's increased awareness about infection control.”
Xenex, which manufacturers a germ-zapping robot that can disinfect a hospital room within five to 10 minutes, is already used in 250 hospitals and has been on the market since 2010. But the San Antonio-based company has been “swamped with inquiries” from customers over the past two weeks about what to do if an Ebola case is confirmed at their hospitals, spokeswoman Melinda Hart said.
So Xenex has developed a protocol for disinfecting not only patient rooms and ambulances but a healthcare worker's personal protective equipment, which can be a source of vulnerability if it isn't put on and removed correctly.
“With the arrival of Ebola in the U.S., the infection preventionists have been trying to find the budget” for new disinfection technology, Hart said. Xenex's robot, which uses nonmercury xenon UV to kill pathogens, starts at $104,000. “We've definitely seen a surge in requests,” she said.
The government also has demonstrated interest. Xenex recently shipped one of its robots to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.
Both Hart and Green said tests show that Ebola is a delicate virus and easier to kill than a common hospital scourge, C. difficile. In theory, any technology that can combat C. diff should be able to tackle Ebola.
Amerinet, a group purchasing organization that counts more than 3,000 acute-care hospitals as members, has contacted suppliers asking for additional instructional information and about new products. However, the GPO already has most of the necessary infection-control supplies already on contract for members to purchase, said Dale Wright, chief contracting officer.
Demand for those products has “increased some but it's not increased as much as I thought it would,” Wright said. “There's not as much of a panic that we've seen in the past with some other pandemics.”
Hospitals, particularly in large cities, also are coordinating their efforts for managing Ebola, he added.
DuPont, which makes the commonly used Tyvek and Tychem personal protection gear, did not respond to a request for comment.
For PrimeGuard Medical, a Mundelein, Ill.-based company that's still in the launch phase, the arrival of Ebola, including a new confirmed case in New York, has provided an opening to talking about its Guard360 product line.
Its devices are designed to keep foley catheters and peripheral IV lines securely in place to prevent healthcare personnel from having to clean up spilled blood and urine. It currently is working with long-term-care facilities to gather additional clinical data.
“The timing's really good,” said President Douglas Johnson. “This heightened the interest in really having a protocol in place.”
Follow Beth Kutscher on Twitter: @MHbkutscher