Helvey worked with the hospital’s infection prevention department to research aqueous ozone thoroughly before requesting a site visit and presentation from the manufacturer, CleanCore.

“Working with the infection prevention department is key to what we do,” says Helvey. “They are our resource for what types of pathogens we are trying to eradicate and control, and our resource for finding the right approach.”

The infection prevention department wanted specifications, testing and supporting data from the manufacturer to prove that the technology was effective against specific pathogens. And Helvey wanted to know who else was using it. CleanCore was able to provide reports to the infection prevention team and to put Helvey in touch with facility managers at other institutions who used the technology so that he could speak with them directly.

Next, CleanCore came to visit Cape Coral, meeting with members of Helvey’s team and the infection prevention team. That meeting included a hands-on demonstration, a time for questions and some training.

After the meeting was over, Cape Coral initiated a pilot program for two of its general patient care areas. The program included the use of both of the dispensing systems available, a freestanding mobile generator (“caddy”) and a wall-mounted unit, over the course of three months. Helvey and his team used the caddy for carpet and floor cleaning and the wall-mounted unit was stationed in a central supply area to fill spray bottles for surface cleaning.

“The first thing the staff noticed was that when they used aqueous ozone on surfaces, there was no streaking,” says Helvey. “That’s because with traditional cleaners, the water evaporates and the chemical stays behind, which results in streaking. It also means you have to go back and re-wipe. There was no streaking with aqueous ozone because, once the water evaporates, nothing is left behind.”

Next, the cleaning staff noticed that the aqueous ozone was an excellent deodorizer. Rather than masking odors, the solution destroys the bacteria causing those odors.

“We all noted the scent after using it is the same smell you might detect after a thunderstorm — that smell you recognize is ozone,” says Helvey. “That concept really intrigued me because ozone is literally what disinfects our atmosphere, and you could actually smell that happening when you used it.”

After a successful pilot program, the environmental services department and infection prevention department at Cape Coral Hospital made the decision to switch all of their general-purpose cleaning over to aqueous ozone. In addition, all glass cleaning and carpet cleaning is performed using the technology.

“We have also discontinued our use of restroom deodorizers,” says Helvey.

One chemical they kept on hand: disinfectants. This is because the technology does not create any hospital-grade disinfectants. All disinfecting of high-touch and vulnerable areas throughout the hospital and health system are still performed using regulated disinfectants appropriate for the healthcare setting.

Those changes at Cape Coral Hospital happened two years ago. Today, all of the five hospitals within the Lee Memorial Health System have introduced aqueous ozone into their environmental services programs, following Cape Coral’s lead.

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