Some Valley hospitals reusing decontaminated N95 masks

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Some Valley hospitals that don't want to risk a shortage of N95 masks are now reusing them after they've been decontaminated.

Adventist Health operates four hospitals in the valley. In Hanford, Selma, Reedley, and Tulare.

Once their healthcare workers are done with their N95 respirator masks, they're sent out to be disinfected inside a modified shipping container.

Adventist Health has an adequate supply of N95 respirator masks for staff but Infection Prevention Director Teri Boggess said,
"We have been researching options to expand that supply and plan for future needs."

The company which disinfects the masks - Battelle - said it was commissioned by the FDA in 2015 to see if the process would work without degrading the N95 filter material.

"What we intend by this method is to be able to increase the lifetime of an N95 in its almost pristine state of use by decontaminating it and allowing it for re-use. So it can go through our system up to 20 times," said Battelle Commercial Sales Director Jon Cartlidge.

Used N95 masks in California are shipped to either Fremont or Burbank to be cleaned.

Battelle says it has already decontaminated over 1.3 million N95 masks.

The federal government covers the cost of the sterilization process.

N95 masks though with traces of lipstick or makeup are tossed out.
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