On the prowl: Doctors turn to killing machine to save lives

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Patient care is a top priority for nurse Denise Block at the Wheaton Franciscan St. Joseph Campus.

"When I see a patient develop a hospital-acquired infection, it is absolutely devastating to me. I take it very personally," said Block.

Infections that patients acquire in the hospital take the lives of 75,000 people nationwide each year, with an estimated cost of $33 billion.

That's where Cicero comes in.

"The light will pulse in the room anywhere from 3 to 20 minutes and that light pulsing around the room will fracture the cell of any microorganisms that are left so the germ can`t replicate," said St. Joseph Campus Environmental Services Operations Manager Paul Picciurro.

Cicero is the name St. Joseph staff gave the Xenex UVC Pulse Disinfecting Robot.

This state of the art technology flashes an ultraviolet light 25,000 times brighter than sunlight, killing bacteria, viruses, and spores without contact or chemicals.

Due to the strength of the light, people can't be in the room while Cicero is working.

"We've proven that it will knock down the number of germs, so we're excited about getting it out in the patient rooms," said Picciurro.

Cicero is mobile, but since there is only one in the facility staff have to prioritize where they use it.

"We'll hit our operating rooms, we'll hit our C-section suites and labor and delivery, we'll hit the NICU here, our Intensive Care Unit, and then the patient rooms," said Picciurro.

One extra step to keep patients safe on their road to recovery.

Wheaton Franciscan also has a robot at its Elmbrook Memorial Campus.

Both robots are used in 200 rooms each month.