Reading Hospital using robots to help patients

WEST READING, Pa. - At the Reading HealthPlex, the newest addition to the Reading Health System, they are rolling out something special.

"We are excited to be able to have this technology so that we can take care of our patients the way we like to," said Margaret Kipe, the director of nutrition services.

The new helpers are called TUGs. They're robots that carry trays of food from the kitchen to the nutrition staff two-and-half blocks away.

"In a room service world, when you are feeding patients whenever they want to eat, you can make 50, 60 trips a day back and forth," said Kipe.

Each of the robots has a name inspired by the Jetsons TV show: Judy, Elroy, Rosie and George are just a few of the names that they go by.

All together, they travel 18 miles, a day which is a big relief for the staff.

"I'm relaxed. I'm not fatigued, and I can do my job the way we want to do it," she said.

The robots ride the elevator alone, navigate through the hallways without bumping into anyone and then return to the kitchen to pick up more food.

"They use lasers on these maps that have been programmed into the system to kind of guide themselves through the hallways on routes that we have pre-determined," said Kipe.

And don't worry, the robots are not taking away any jobs.

"Now actually, they are physically able to be with the patient and they are not going to be running back and forth to the kitchen," she said.

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