VA Pittsburgh evaluated 24-hour self-cleaning mats in its Community Living Center (CLC) in O’Hara Township this spring. It collaborated with VHA Innovators Network (iNet), Diffusion of Excellence Emerging Tech Team, and AIONX, a self-cleaning technologies company, to evaluate the mats. The mats worked so well, VA Pittsburgh purchased the mats for all its CLC units in November 2021.

Users tested 32 of the mats over 30 days in a long-term care unit. The mats are about the size of a dinner placemat. They were tested on high-touch surfaces where people work, stage care, or lay personal and work items.

According to AIONX, the innovative mats — called cleanSURFACES — continuously disinfect themselves and items resting on them. When the mats detect contamination, they electronically signal the release of embedded silver and copper ions that destroy the germs.

After 30 days, 17 of 18 germ types had gone

For the trial, AIONX sampled desks, keyboards, ledges, mobile workstations and medication and supply carts to see how many germs were on surfaces a few hours after standard cleaning procedures. They installed the mats on many — but not all — of those same surfaces. And they took samples over 30 days to assess the products’ ability to clean themselves and to prevent the spread of germs to surfaces not directly covered by the mats.

Initial sampling found 18 different types of germs that are the most common cause of infections in health care settings. By the end of the 30-day test, 17 of the 18 types had gone.

“We had a very good experience with it,” said Lisa McDade, nurse manager.

Staff use the mats and normal cleaning procedures to provide an additional layer of protection for patients and staff.

Employees identify, develop and test solutions

Jamie Vaughn is associate chief nurse. She said testing items, such as the mats, prior to purchase accomplishes more than just ensuring such items work.

“It instills confidence that the agency is looking out for the employee when we can create an environment that shows the efficacy of the products we’re trying to bring in, not just for the patients, but also for our employees,” Vaughn said.

iNet empowers VA employees to identify, develop and test solutions to challenges. Katie Braun, chief innovator, said iNet membership helped facilitate the mat test. It also encourages employees to try other ideas for improving Veterans’ health care.

“Being an iNet site opens the door for VA Pittsburgh employees to take part in innovation-related activities knowing they have the support of leadership to develop creative solutions,” Braun said.

The Emerging Technology Team exists to build supportive communities around innovation and identify, test, and integrate cutting-edge technologies and innovative care models to transform service delivery.

Disclaimer: Reference to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark or manufacturer does not constitute or imply its endorsement by VA.

By Kimberly Graham is a visual information specialist for the Pittsburgh VA

Share this story

Published on Dec. 28, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.3 min.

Views to date: 571

2 Comments

  1. Robert Przybylak December 30, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    What an awesome invention

  2. Taylor Hall December 29, 2021 at 5:09 am

    This is a welcomed development which will do a lot of good this holiday.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Housebound Veterans are winners when they combine virtual and in-home health care visits. Susan Gallagher receives hybrid care, both virtual and in-person.

  • In 2022, VA set a goal to house 38,000 homeless Veterans. With only a few months to go, how are we doing?

  • Under the PACT Act, Vietnam era, Gulf War era, and Post-9/11 Veterans have extended eligibility for VA health care.