Ultraviolet light is now being used to disinfect dozens of N95 masks at one time so they can be reused at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
The procedure was adapted from a protocol implemented by the University of Nebraska Medical Center last week.
A room near the Clinical Research Center at VUMC was painted with reflective paint and a wire was strung from one corner to the other. UV light cleaning robots, which are already used to sterilize hospital rooms and operating rooms, are placed three feet from the hanging masks.
It takes about an hour to clean 60, though capacity of the room can be expanded. The N95 respirators are then loaded into clean bags and redistributed throughout the adult and children’s hospitals.
“The importance of having the right equipment to protect our frontline personnel is a major emphasis during this pandemic, and using innovative tools to safely reuse respirators is essential,” Dr. Thomas Talbot, VUMC’s chief epidemiologist, said in a statement.
Vanderbilt has said it has enough protective gear, but the hospital is also preparing for a surge of COVID-19 patients.
Hospitals around the world have been looking for ways to reuse N95s, which are meant to be disposable. A University of Tennessee researcher recently published an article explaining that N95s can also be disinfected with heat, steam and even boiling water.