Bengaluru: Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road has come up with a unique initiative of sterilising N95 respirators as a step to maintain an adequate supply of the requisite PPE. The hospital has set up an indigenously, fabricated, simple device for sanitising the N95 respirators using UV rays under the guidance and supervision of Dr Vasundhra Atre- Director-Medical Operations – Fortis Hospitals, South Region and Dr Murali Chakravarthy- MD, Chairman, Central Infection Prevention And Control Committee, Fortis Hospitals, Bangalore during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The N95 respirators are being decontaminated based on published scientific literature using four possible techniques: Use of the hot air oven, Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), Lay off method, Plasma sterilisation. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has approved such actions known as extended use of masks during epidemics/ Pandemics. Any mask that has undergone one of these procedures would be used by the same individual who initially wore it.
An N95 mask or N95 respirator is a particulate-filtering facepiece respirator that filters at least 95% of airborne particles.
Dr Vasundhra Atre- Director-Medical Operations Fortis Hospitals, South Region, said, “Drawing from the learning of other healthcare systems, globally, which are experiencing a challenge in maintaining a regular and adequate supply of the requisite PPE, we at Fortis Hospitals realised the importance of proactively conserving resources and started using scientific methods to extend use and reuse of the N95 respirator masks. As a means to prevent spread of the disease, the use of PPE including respirators and facemasks is one key part of a larger strategy to establish barriers and increase distance between infected and uninfected individuals.”
Dr Murali Chakravarthy, MD, Chairman, Central Infection Prevention And Control Committee, Fortis Fortis Hospitals, Bangalore, said, “With the onset of COVID-19 in Wuhan, the Infection Control team along with Medical Operations department at Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road started preparing PPEs as early as in the month of January to be prepared for the upcoming pandemic. Since the N95 mask would be required for most front line healthcare workers, its shortage was also foreseen. Therefore, our team at Fortis decided to recondition these masks through UV rays. This practice is also approved by CDC and known as the extended use of masks. With our OPDs being fully operational now, we need to put in extra effort to protect both our healthcare workers as well as our patients, the decontamination of N95 respirators will help us in coping up with COVID-19 situation in the long run”.
Though the N95 respirators are specifically, single-use, disposable respiratory protective devices used and worn by health care personnel during procedures to protect both the patient and health care personnel from the transfer of microorganisms, body fluids, and particulate material, studies suggested that the N95 can be re-used in a careful and limited way during periods of short supply.