Sentara adding copper to fight infections at hospitals

WAVY/LaVoy Harrell
WAVY/LaVoy Harrell

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Officials with the Sentara Healthcare say they are adding copper to every patient room following the results of a 10 month-long study on how the metal can be used to fight infections.

Sentara partnered with a couple of companies — including Norfolk-based EOS Surfaces, LLC — for the study, which was the largest clinical trial testing copper’s effectiveness in killing life-threatening infections.

Photos: Study tests the power of copper

Sentara released the results of the study overnight on Wednesday.

Researchers say the study found copper-infused hard surfaces and linens reduced some infections, or multi-drug resistant organisms, by as much as 83 percent.

Custom-made countertops, bathroom sinks, bedside tables and bedrails from EOS Surfaces were installed at 124 rooms, along with work surfaces and charting stations, of Sentara Leigh’s East Tower.

Patient data was analyzed from high-touch surfaces in the rooms.

Because of the positive results, Sentara says it plans to retro-fit copper-infused products in all patient rooms of its 12 facilities.

Deb Brown is the Director of Patient Care services at Sentara Leigh. She says she stands behind the copper-infused products and the study.

“We are essentially wrapping a patient in a copper infused product to decrease the infection rates,” said Brown. “Copper is an anti-microbial.”

Officials say they are also looking into the potential for copper products for nursing and assisted living centers.

Broermann, Chief Financial Officer of Sentara Healthcare, stated in a news release, “It’s not every day you see these kinds of opportunities to improve patient safety and clinical quality at a relatively modest investment level that stand a good chance of generating a positive return on investment.”

Sentara officials hope to have the technology in place over the next several months.

Eric Young, Vice President of Operations at Sentara Leigh is calling this study “a game-changer.”

“For us, this is a way to keep patients safe by reducing hospital acquired infections,” said Young. “It’s an issue that all hospitals across the country deal with and so anything that can work to make patients more safe and to decrease their risk of them getting an infections in a hospital, I think, could be a be a game-changer.”