NORFOLK-Can copper help stop the spread of germs? A study will begin in February to find out.

Sentara Healthcare,Cupron,EOS Surfaces and Encompass Group will conduct the largest clinical study of copper-infused surfaces and linens to see if it reduces bacteria.

The linens and surfaces, like sinks and counters, will be evaluated at several sites, including a new 250-bed acute care facility, to assess whether they improve health and/or reduce healthcare costs.

Anti-odor textiles will be used for things like patient bed linens and gowns.

Trials will take place at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Sentara Leigh Hospital.

'We are increasingly realizing that there are processes and technologies that are effective at reducing and possibly eliminating some of these infections once believed to be an inevitable part of the healthcare experience,' said Dr. Gene Burke, vice president of Clinical Effectiveness for Sentara.

'Approximately 7-million people worldwide acquire a hospital-acquired infection each year,' said Paul Rocheleau, chairman of Cupron. 'The Sentara program, supported by EOS Surfaces and Encompass Group, will hopefully be one of the first steps to define a new level of patient care.'

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