Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. hospitals have faced a number of shortages with critical personal protective equipment (PPE) namely, the N95 respirator mask.
In order to meet the challenge of a possible surge in the Coachella Valley and potential demand for PPE, Eisenhower Health’s Biomedical Engineering (Biomed) Department and the hospital’s Internal Medicine residents worked together to find an innovation solution — the Virus Avenger — a specially designed capsule which houses a powerful ultraviolet (UV) light tower to decontaminate N95 masks, making them reusable.
Made possible by generous donations to Eisenhower Health’s COVID-19 Response Fund, Eisenhower’s Biomed department discovered an inexpensive, easily transportable, powerful disinfection system.
The TORCH+ Tower by ClorDiSys Solutions provides a rapid and highly effective method to disinfect PPE utilizing UV light.
According to a study by Duke Health researchers, ultraviolet light C or UVC has helped hospitals cut transmission of super bugs like MRSA or coronaviruses that can linger in patient rooms and cause new infections. So unlike tanning beds which use UVA or UVB ultraviolet light, the tower uses special bacteria-killing UVC light bulbs. In effect, the ultraviolet light disrupts the coronavirus’s genetic material which deactivates it.
The decontamination process works like this: after each use, health care workers place their designated masks in a paper bag. The bag is placed in a room equipped with the Virus Avenger, whose design was inspired by a team led by John Lowe, PhD, Assistant Vice Chancellor for inter-professional health security training and education, University of Nebraska Medical Center.
The Virus Avenger’s design maximizes the UV output from the TORCH+ Tower.
Created by Andrew Karstens, Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician and Arvel Mecham, Director, Biomedical Engineering Department, Eisenhower Health, the Virus Avenger looks like a large cylindrical capsule.
Inside the capsule, Mecham’s team created a rotating wire system to hang the masks giving equal UV exposure to every mask, ensuring successful decontamination for each part of the masks. Additionally, the team coated the inside of the capsule with UV reflective paint to further ensure the maximum amount of UV exposure to the masks.
Once the decontamination process is complete (approximately two minutes), the masks are removed, put in a new bag, and returned to their original owners for reuse.
Respirator masks, such as the N95 respirator mask, are very similar to regular face masks. However, the N95 mask’s capability of protecting against small contaminated airborne particulates is far superior.
The N95 is custom fit for each health care worker eliminating the gap that regular face masks have.
With filters inside that capture at least 95% of virus particles, the N95 mask blocks not only small particles but also large particulates and droplets — ultimately, protecting frontline health care providers working to keep their patients and themselves safe.
Article from Eisenhower Health.