CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Health officials are reporting a large shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on the front lines amid the COVID-19 pandemic and are utilizing resources to sanitize that needed equipment.
United Hospital Center (UHC) in Bridgeport has started decontaminating N-95 masks with their ultraviolet light germ-zapping robots. The 10 minute disinfecting process has allowed United Hospital Center’s healthcare workers to wear their mask up to a week longer, decreasing the usage of new ones. Hospital officials say the N-95 masks are vital to heal care workers and that they help filter out 95% of airborne particles.
The Xenex LightStrike robot uses a Full SpectrumTM that pulses a xenon UV light to quickly destroy bacteria viruses, fungi and bacteria spores. UHC officials said the portable disinfecting system is effective against even the most dangerous pathogens, including clostridium difficile, norovirus, ebola and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA.
“One method of conservation for supplies is disinfection and reuse of the N-95 masks. And that was something that was really born out of the Ebola era to learn how much exposure to ultra violet light can safely disinfect a mask and have that mask still maintain its fit testing can be useful,” said Dr. Mark Povroznik, Chairman of Infection Control at United Hospital Center.
United Hospital Center can disinfect 168 masks in a single 10 minute period, and over the course of 24-hours more than 8,000 masks can be cleaned. The hospital has been using UV light disinfecting since UHC opened its Bridgeport campus in 2010.
“It is being extended to other hospitals in the region Braxton, St. Joeseph’s, and Summersville. We are duplicating this process at Camden Park Medical Center and Berkeley Medical Center to support the health care force at all these facilities,” Said Povroznik.
Health officials stated that if anyone is having symptoms of COVID-19 such as Fever, cough or shortness of breath should call a health provider or hospital to be directed to the nearest testing site.