Evergreen Health expanding use of UV-C light to zap the COVID-19 virus in the air

KIRKLAND, Wash. — One impact of the COVID pandemic is that some patients have been delaying their routine care.

Evergreen Health is now using ultraviolet light to fully disinfect the air in their Mammography Mobile Coach, making sure even the air is sterilized to keep patients and employees safe while checkups happen.

>> Related: Highest rates of COVID-19 in WA now in ages 20-24

The mobile exam center has been making mammograms more accessible to patients for about a decade, but now it has a major safety upgrade. When you walk in, you’ll see a wall-mounted box emitting a blue light that pulls air in and destroys any virus particles that might be in the air.

Evergreen Health has installed two of the indirect UV-C light air disinfectant fixtures.

“It makes sense to use it in an enclosed space like that where we’re rotating patients all day. It just takes the air in and purifies anything that’s in there. Any bacteria, any virus is purified,” said Kerry Cowan, a registered nurse at the Evergreen Health Breast Center. “It eliminates the virus.”

Similar technology is also used inside the hospitals to clean rooms.

At the mobile mammography truck, surfaces are also completely wiped down between patients, and anyone coming in is screened for any COVID-19 symptoms.

But the UV-C light adds another layer of precaution from the virus when patients are getting this potentially lifesaving checkup: a 3D mammogram.

“It’s is extremely important. The whole goal of mammography is to catch something at its earliest existence. Mammograms decrease mortality by 30 to 40%,” said Debbie Kendall, a mammographer at Evergreen Health.

Patients say it’s something that brings peace of mind too.

“Definitely, especially in a closed-quarters situation,” said Kelly Bruckner, who visited for an annual exam.

The Evergreen Health Breast Center is busier than normal as it works to see a backlog of patients that built up while it was closed, plus catching up on patients who delayed their care.

For the employees who spend all day in a tight space, they say the UV-C light air cleaning means they can focus on caring for their patients.

“It does make you feel a lot more comfortable down here working,” Kendall said.

Another plus of the mobile unit? No waiting rooms. Patients can wait in their cars if there’s any line.

The mobile unit operates all year, and the mammogram is the same exam you would receive inside a hospital.