Keith Kelley adapted a model utilized in a University of Nebraska Medical Center study to disinfect N95 masks so that healthcare providers can use them more than once. The Director of Administrative Services assisting the Chief Nursing Officer for CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital-Sulphur Springs explained that they converted the model to a mobile unit, making it available to help many area healthcare facilities disinfect their N95 masks on site.
In a time when many healthcare facilities across the country are reporting shortages of N95 masks, the cleaning will extend the life of the PPE used by hospital employees directly in contact with patients to ensure the facility maximizes its resources so that they are amply prepared for the fight against COVID-19.
Kelley said a local dentist’s office had enquired this week about having some N95 masks disinfected. Later in the week, the trailer will be moved to Longview, where masks from hospitals and health facilities around the area will be collected and cleaned on site.
The ultraviolet light, controlled from outside the trailer, when it reaches the specified wattage for the Joules needed will disrupt the genetics in the coronavirus, killing any COVID-19 that’s on the mask. This is the same process used in medical facilities to disinfect a room where a COVID-19 patient has been treated. This is very high voltage UV light in a small area, much stronger than one would get from regular sunlight.
The process takes about 5 1/2 minutes total to sterilize the masks, with a capacity to decontaminate up to about 1,000 masks per hour. Masks are labeled and packaged in brown bags. They are removed and hung with clothes pins in what looks like a clothes line. Once all are on the line, the trailer is closed. The UV turned on. Once finished, the door is opened. The disinfected masks are returned in white paper bags designating them clean and returned to their owners.
The trailer and supplies were a donation to the CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital – Sulphur Springs Foundation from Brian and Leesa Toliver of Brian Toliver Ford-Lincoln.