Nebraska Medicine pioneering method to decontaminate personal protective equipment

The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to a national shortage of personable protective equipment for medical workers. 
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The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to a national shortage of personable protective equipment for medical workers.

Nebraska Medicine is working on a new method to safely decontaminate those items – most of which are made for only one use – so that they can be used repeatedly.

A Nebraska Medicine team is using ultraviolet light towers to irradiate masks, which will greatly extend its supply during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The shortage of PPE is a nationwide issue – each and every one of these items is increasingly precious,” said Mark Rupp, MD, chief of the infectious diseases division at UNMC. “Although we were well prepared, our supplies were beginning to dwindle. We had to find a way to keep our providers and patients safe, and this will definitely help us achieve that goal.”

The masks are bagged and taken to a room inside the hospital which is equipped with two UV light towers. It is then hung on wires that stretch across the room. The lights are then turned on, decontaminating the items.

“The shortage has forced us to be innovative,” said Dr. Lowe. “While these items weren’t meant to be used more than once, this is a 100% safe way to extend their useful life. Other major hospital systems in the U.S. have also started to implement this method for the same reason we are.”

Staff have been provided with instructions on how to safely remove their PPE and place in bags for transport to the decontamination room.

Nebraska Medicine said the community has offered to donate masks and that they appreciate the offers and are exploring all of them to continue to add to their supply.

 

Categories: Health, Nebraska News, News