Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital – Sulphur Springs, has taken steps to prevent any shortages of access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – and one of their efforts has resulted in a groundbreaking development in disinfectant technology. Thanks to critical thinking and the search for new and innovative ideas, team member Keith Kelley, identified a creative way to expand the life of existing supplies.
Kelley, who serves as Director of Administrative Services assisting the Chief Nursing Officer, recognized an opportunity to use an existing, specialized ultraviolet light at the hospital to sterilize N95 masks to allow their use more than once per person.
Following a study published by the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Kelley and the Infection Control team began to determine how using the existing Ultraviolet light may help the hospital disinfect certain PPE. Instead of setting this sterilization process up inside the hospital, using the guidance of the research and an enclosed cargo trailer, Kelley went to work building a “mobile” sterilization process.
As a generous gift to the CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital – Sulphur Springs Foundation, Brian and Leesa Toliver of Brian Toliver Ford-Lincoln not only purchased the trailer, but also all of the components to build the decontamination trailer.
“My entire family is either in the medical field or car business,” explained Brian Toliver. “It is critically important for our hospital to have the equipment it needs to provide the best care for our community. In this time of need, we were happy to purchase this equipment that will be a benefit, not only to our hospital, but to surrounding hospitals as well as local businesses, now and in the future.”
With the help of the maintenance crew, Kelley electrically wired the trailer to power the UV lighting. After each use, Associates put their masks in a paper bag. Inside the decontamination trailer, the masks are hung across long thin wires, resembling a clothesline. The bag then goes through the sterilization process to decontaminate the N95 masks, making them reusable.
“The UV light is used to decontaminate rooms after patients leave. The ultraviolet light disrupts the coronavirus’s genetic material, deactivating it”, said Kelley. “Once the 5-minute process is complete, the masks are removed, put in a fresh, clean bag, and returned to their original owners for reuse.”
As some hospitals across the country face a critical N95 respirator mask shortage, Kelley and the infection control team at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital – Sulphur Springs fought back with an innovative solution that can not only serve their hospital, but any healthcare facility looking to extend the life of their masks during this pandemic.