Yale New Haven Health System has found a way to reuse a key item that helps keep front line staff safe.
“Being able to provide the protective equipment is paramount,” said Dr. Patrick Kenney of the Yale School of Medicine.
Kenney says he and other researchers have found a new way for hospitals to boost their supply of N95 face respirators.
Yale had previously used a special machine to disinfect hospital rooms.
Now researchers have discovered it’s also really good at sanitizing face respirators.
“One of the challenges with respirators is that we have a hugely increased demand and inadequate supply,” said Kenney.
Now instead of throwing the respirators out, each day staff at Yale New Haven Health System collect ones that are not stained and are in pretty good shape, which turns out to be most of them.
They are then hung up in a closed room with special equipment.
“The room gets filled with vaporized hydrogen peroxide, just like the hydrogen peroxide people use at home, and that is a very effective agent for sterilizing the masks, excuse me, the respirators from virus,” said Dr. Kenney.
Recently – based partly on the research at Yale – the CDC issued new guidance about respirators, which normally aren’t meant to be used again.
The CDC found several methods – including the one used at Yale – showed the most promise to decontaminate and these processes “...may need to be considered as a crisis capacity strategy to ensure continued availability.”
“We don’t want to use these as the first line. So we’re using them when we need to,” said Kenney.
Kenney says they hope with the new setup they can sanitize about 15,000 of the respirators a day if needed.
He says they’re also finding other types of respirators to use and trying to cut down on the number that are used by staff each day.