HealthPartners begins disinfecting N95 respirators for reuse
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Faced with global shortages of N95 respirators that help protect health care workers from COVID-19, HealthPartners has created an innovative solution that will allow hundreds of respirators to be disinfected daily and reused.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidance on how to decontaminate disposable N95 respirators using ultraviolet (UV) light, but this solution uses a disinfecting option that meets HealthPartners high-quality standard for multiple use of these respirators.
“Making sure that health care clinicians have the supplies they need to care for patients is a necessity right now,” said Andrea Walsh, HealthPartners president and CEO. “We are all aware of the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and, with the help of Regions Hospital, we are happy to have identified a safe process to disinfect N95 respirators.”
The respirators are disinfected using a UV disinfecting robot, which is used as part of the room discharge cleaning process, as well as in operating rooms by the environmental services teams at Regions and Methodist hospitals. Testing done by 3M Company confirmed that the N95 respirators could be decontaminated up to 10 times without causing significant damage to their fit and filtration when using this process.
“These respirators are crucial to keeping our nurses and clinicians safe while providing the highest-quality care to our patients,” Walsh said. ”Significantly increasing our supply of these respirators allows us to focus on patient care and ease a worry about supplies.”
Testing on the respirators was done on April 3. They were put through significant testing to ensure that the filters and structure of the mask remained sound and safety was maintained. Disinfection of N95 respirators will begin soon at both hospital locations.
HealthPartners is the largest consumer-governed, non-profit health care organization in the nation with a mission to improve health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community. For more information, visit healthpartners.com.