NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– A new system for sanitizing those crucial N-95 masks is now up and running in New Haven. It is a game changer when it comes to getting doctors and nurses enough of the personal protective equipment they need.
They set it up in the garage of an old Department of Transportation building on Chapel Street in New Haven. It looks like a shipping container on the outside, but on the inside, they are able to sanitize those N95 masks so they can be re-used.
“It’s a vaporized hydrogen peroxide that the masks will be in,” explained Jeff Rose, Vice President of Battelle, an Ohio-based science and technology non-profit. “It’s a couple of hours, about 2 and a half hours that they’re in that solution and then they are de-gassed.”
Those masks were usually used once and thrown away because there was no good way to clean them. Then a technology non-profit in Ohio named Battelle developed this system because those masks became so hard to get.
“It is the doctors and nurses who are every day in intensive care units who are risking their lives in order to save other lives,” said U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd District). “What Battelle is doing here today is saving lives.”
As some of the state’s top officials got a look at the operation Wednesday morning, they pointed out that masks and other personal protective equipment are crucial to the mass testing needed to let people go back to work.
“Because we have to be able to be sure that we have enough protection to be able to have health care workers out on the front lines doing the testing,” said U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT). “While still having enough protection to the in-patient wings.”
Battell’s process lets a mask be used up to 20 times, and their New Haven units are already up and running, taking equipment from some 30 hospitals.
“We can do tens of thousands each day.” Rose said. “There’s about 5,000 per unit and we have 4 units so depending on the volume that comes in we feel we can meet the needs here in the region.”
The service is being offered for free to Connecticut’s hospitals. As Senator Murphy pointed out, that is largely thanks to a federal grant.