In April, Vanderbilt University Medical Center began using hydrogen peroxide vapor as approved by the FDA for sterilization of N95 facemask-respirators used by health care workers to protect against COVID-19.
N95s are typically discard after a single use but the threat of supply shortages have prompted hospitals around the U.S. to adopt sterilization procedures that allow reuse.
Using the hydrogen peroxide process to sterilize and reuse N95 masks help VUMC maintain an appropriate supply of respirators to protect against threats of supply shortages. VUMC reprocessed these PPE initially in-house but have now partnered with an external company, which allows for up to 20 reuses of single N95. The program has been well-received, but there continue to be opportunities to safely reprocess many more of the N95 respirators that are used every day.
"While right now we have an adequate supply of N95s for our frontline workers, but with the threat of more COVID-19 cases increasing, we must do all we can to ensure we sustain this supply. Reprocessing is an important and safe part of the process," said infectious diseases specialist and VUMC Chief Hospital Epidemiologist Thomas Talbot, MD, MPH. While some N95s never make it to the collection bins for reprocessing, others have to discarded because of make-up stains or failure to fully lable each piece of PPE.
Information about how to submit your N95 mask for disinfection and reuse can be found here.