Coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus: Ella helps keep Alexandra Hospital clean

As the Covid-19 outbreak continues to cause disruptions, organisations here have had to adapt to 'business as usual' in a pandemic world. From robot cleaners to remote physiotherapy sessions to digital management platforms, Timothy Goh looks at five different types of technology that have been adopted here in the fight against Covid-19, and what the future might look like.

Ella the housekeeping robot is deployed at Alexandra Hospital to boost its cleaning regime.
Ella the housekeeping robot is deployed at Alexandra Hospital to boost its cleaning regime. PHOTO: ALEXANDRA HOSPITAL

Embracing tech in Covid-19 fight

Meet the newest member of Alexandra Hospital's housekeeping staff: Ella the robot.

The made-in-Singapore robot has been deployed at the hospital since early March to boost the hospital's cleaning regime in order to keep staff and patients safe from the coronavirus.

Cleaning at the hospital, which is part of the National University Health System, has been stepped up in the light of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Common walkways and corridors are now cleaned twice daily instead of once, and areas with high footfall such as clinics and wards have to be cleaned once every three hours, round the clock.

Ella is able to help with this by using its brushes and pads, which can generate up to 50kg of pressure, allowing for deep cleaning. It can work for five hours continuously on a single two-hour charge.

It is also capable of having simple conversations with others.

Mr Colin Tan, head of support operations at Alexandra Hospital, said that the hospital is exploring the use of ultraviolet disinfection robots to enhance its cleaning and disinfection regime.

Such a robot has been used in the Covid-19 wards in Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH) since March.

Following manual deep cleaning of the wards by hospital staff, the robot emits pulses of ultraviolet radiation to kill bacteria and viruses in a few minutes, while avoiding damaging nearby plastic objects, which ultraviolet light is known to do.

NTFGH chief operating officer Ng Kian Swan said: "The current Covid-19 situation has stretched our resources, with the added tasks that our housekeepers need to perform to ensure full compliance with infection control standards and quick turnaround of wards and other areas to protect our patients and staff.

"As such, our housekeeping department is leveraging technology to drive efficiency, safety and be less dependent on labour."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2020, with the headline Coronavirus: Ella helps keep Alexandra Hospital clean. Subscribe