Customer Success Story: Kapi’olani Medical Center

Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children in Oahu, Hawaii is widely recognized as a leader in the care of women, children and infants. The hospital has more than 1,700 employees and 630 physicians and is continually looking for innovative ways to make its facilities state-of-the-art, environmentally healthy and safe for all entering its doors. 

Challenge

Numerous studies demonstrate that the environment may play a role in the transmission and cross contamination of infectious pathogens. Transmission may occur through direct contact with a pathogen, from person to person or through the environment. It is therefore critical to maintain clean surfaces throughout a hospital to limit the potential exposure and spread of infectious pathogens.

Maintaining a clean hospital is also vital because it conveys a clear message that the facility cares about the health and well-being of patients, staff and visitors. Additionally, a clean hospital may be more likely to receive higher patient satisfaction ratings on its Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys. While higher ratings help hospitals maintain reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid and insurance companies, patient satisfaction and protection is paramount.  

For these reasons, Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children sought to improve the efficacy of its floor cleaning program through innovation and technology. 

“The world of infectious pathogens is changing dramatically, so healthcare facilities need to keep up with technology to successfully limit exposure,” said Robert Crawford, Director of Environmental Services, Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children. “When evaluating our current floor care program, we knew there must be more advanced methodologies and equipment available other than the mop-and-bucket and/or labor-intensive walk-behind, water-wasting, chemical-dependent auto scrubbers.” 

Solution

In 2015, the hospital approached Diversey to launch Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children’s floor cleaning program into the future

TASKI Intellibot robot floor cleaners safely navigate surrounding obstacles via sonar sensors to operate autonomously. This allows facilities to modify and/or reassign employees who previously operated manual floor equipment to other key cleaning tasks. The state-of-the art hospital cleaning robots use an ultraviolet light to disinfect the water and their Eco Save® advanced purification and recycling systems greatly reduce the water waste associated with manually operated auto-scrubbers. 

Over the course of several months, we worked with Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children to tailor the AEROBOT and 2 SWINGOBOTs to the specific needs of the hospital. To make the appearance of the typically grey units more inviting, Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children wrapped the units in colorful cartoon-like pictures of a train, school bus and Volkswagen van. MP3 players were fastened to the back of each robot to play nursery rhymes as they cleaned the corridors. 

“The children get so excited when the hospital robots pass by their rooms, and visitors in waiting areas find themselves tapping their feet and doing a little ‘happy dance’,” said Crawford. “If laughter is the best medicine, then smiles are a great booster shot.” 

Prior to full implementation of this program, the hospital conducted several trial runs to map out detailed routes and uploaded them into the on-board computer, resulting in maximum efficiency and performance. Training employees to operate the robots went smoothly, as they simply prep the machine by adding water, point the unit in the desired direction and press start.

The operator and robots function as a team with the operator assisting the robots in and out of elevators, moving equipment and furnishings so the robots can clean under them (though the hospital robots will navigate around them if need be) and performing daily tasks like cleaning doors, walls, baseboards, vents, lights and corners. 

“Although the robot floor cleaners can function with minimal supervision, it was never our intention to displace our workers,” said Crawford. “Today, the robots are no longer just machines but members of our staff. The AEROBOT takes the lead by prepping floors, followed by the SWINGOBOT to clean them. At the same time, the employees tend to detail work, monitor the robots and smile proudly for photos with the machines.”

Results

Enhanced floor appearance

  • The machines are programmed to complete consistent cleaning by following a preset path at a constant speed. The machines provide the hospital with sparkling, clean floors and reduce the need to burnish and strip/refinish.

Increased cleaning efficiency

  • Previously, employees using a manual machine spent 8 hours cleaning the corridors and lobby, covering 75-80% of the hospital’s main flooring per shift. Productivity suffered because employees had to empty and refill the manual units as much as 6 times per shift. Now, the machines cover these areas, and perform repeat cleaning in high-traffic areas like cafeteria corridors, in just 6 to 7 hours. 

Reduced maintenance

  • The hospital does not have to burnish floors as often because floors are cleaned more thoroughly with the machines. 

Sustainability savings

  • Aside from saving water, Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children doesn’t need to use chemicals to clean floors. This results in a direct savings of approximately $160 per month.

Improved safety

  • Children walk, crawl and play on the floors throughout Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children, so it’s extremely important that floors remain clean. The robot floor cleaners eliminate the use of potentially harsh chemicals and the associated residue, reducing indoor air pollution and the potential spread of bacteria and germs. Because the machines have a 360-degree view of surroundings and built-in safety features, they don’t run into people or objects.

Higher HCAHPS scores

  • Since implementing the machines, Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children has seen its cleaning scores increase.

“It is my opinion that there is simply no better technology available, which was absolutely the best choice for achieving the hospital’s goals of implementing an innovative and state-of-the-art floor care program. After all, we were not just buying machines, we were hiring expert floor care staff,” said Crawford. “I foresee hospital cleaning robots becoming increasingly instrumental in healthcare facilities around the world. We owe it to our patients to pursue innovations like this.”

Robot floor cleaner at Kapi’olani Medical Center