Alabama health careproviders and emergency responders on the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemicnow have a free service that will decontaminate previously worn N95 respiratorface masks so the masks can be safely reused. N95 masks, which help preventhealth care workers’ exposure to pathogenic biological airborne particulates,are often unavailable during this time of critical shortages.
A new facility in Birminghamoperated by the Battelle Critical Care Decontamination SystemTMis one of 60 nationally deployed decontamination system sites. Alabama health care facilities have begun collecting, labeling and shipping theirused masks to the Birmingham location where Battelle decontaminates themasks and returns them directly to the providers. The tested system canmean a respirator mask can be sent for decontamination multiple times.Approximately 80,000 masks per day can be processed at the site.
This service is providedat no charge to organizations that include hospitals, long-term care facilities,dialysis centers, imaging centers, outpatient surgical centers and emergencymedical service providers in Alabama through a federal contract with theBattelle. The system is strictly intended to optimize the personal protectiveequipment supply for medical workers in a health care setting; other organizationsand individuals are not allowed to use their services.
“Our priority is toprotect health care staff, first responders and patients,” Tim Hatch,deputy director of the Center for Emergency Preparedness, Alabama Departmentof Public Health, said. “The Battelle system will play a crucial rolein our state strategy to preserve N95 respirator masks to protect our frontlineworkers and COVID-19 patients.”
Battelle CCDSTMis based on research that Battelle performed for the Food and DrugAdministration in 2015 to assess the feasibility of decontaminating N95respirator masks in the event of a PPE shortage resulting from a pandemic.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has provided Battelle an EmergencyUse Authorization.
The Battelle systemuses concentrated hydrogen peroxide vapor in a 2.5-hour process that removesbiological contaminants, including the virus that causes COVID-19 fromused N95 respirator masks.
Battelle, a globalnonprofit science and technology development organization, was awardedthe contract by the Defense Logistics Agency on behalf of the U.S. Departmentof Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.The system is designed to bridge the gap until the supply chain for newmasks can meet the demand.
More information forhealth care providers about the Battelle decontamination system is availableat battelle.org/decon.