FORT WAYNE, IND. – Jan. 15, 2024 – A brand new fleet of robots has rolled into Parkview Regional Medical Center (PRMC), helping the hospital to continue to rack up miles of safety and efficiency.
The new fleet of 11 TUGs replaces the original fleet that was deployed when PRMC opened in 2012. They may look a little different – newer and sleeker – but they’re still working 24/7 to keep the hospital running smoothly.
The TUG devices, manufactured by ST Engineering Aethon Inc., are smart, autonomous robots that transport carts of supplies, linens and waste throughout the hospital. In 2023, the TUG devices made 41,510 deliveries and traveled more than 9,400 miles within PRMC. It’s estimated the fleet works the equivalent of 20 full-time co-workers.
“Because the hospital is so spread out, these robots save our co-workers from walking literally thousands of miles and pushing bins that can weigh as much as 800 to 900 pounds,” said Casey Palumbo, director, Environmental Services, Parkview Health. “The TUG fleet allows our co-workers to focus on other priorities and avoid injuries from potentially strenuous tasks. Even though they’re robots, they’re an integral part of our team.”
The TUGs are primarily used by Parkview’s Environmental Services team to transport soiled linens, but they also transport items for the Supply Chain and Pharmacy departments. The devices are integrated with automatic dumping equipment, so their carts can be emptied without human assistance. This allows for a safer waste removal process and helps to prevent co-worker injuries.
“Safety for our co-workers and patients is paramount at Parkview,” said Dr. Jeff Boord, chief quality and safety officer, Parkview Health. “The TUGs are able to operate day and night, transporting materials that support hospital operations while keeping our co-workers safe from injury or exposure to hazardous materials.”
In 2023, Parkview was recognized by Aethon with a RoboHero Award, which recognizes healthcare organizations that have achieved excellence in the adoption and utilization of mobile robotic technology as part of their operations. Parkview was recognized in the category “Most Miles Traveled for a Single Robot,” with one of its devices racking up 1,194 miles in a single year.
“While healthcare will always need a human touch, the TUG robots help lighten the workload for our co-workers and make their jobs easier,” said Donna Van Vlerah, senior vice president, Support Services, Parkview Health. “The original fleet had an extremely positive impact on safety and efficiency, and we look forward to seeing how far we can take this new fleet in the years to come.”