Dayton hospital network gets in-house mask sterilization

N95 respirator masks are now going to be reprocessed at Miami Valley North. Premier Health now has in-house mask sterilization. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

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N95 respirator masks are now going to be reprocessed at Miami Valley North. Premier Health now has in-house mask sterilization. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

The mask sterilization technique that Columbus-based Battelle made headlines for is now being used in-house by Premier Health through a different vendor.

The Dayton-based health system said the mask cleaning process will be first used at Upper Valley Medical Center and at Miami Valley Hospital’s main campus.

Premier Health said in a statement that it’s other hospital campuses, free-standing emergency departments, Fidelity Health Care, Premier Health Urgent Cares, and specimen collection site at UD Arena are expected to follow suit soon.

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The news comes as Ohio hospitals work on plans to start doing elective procedures again, which were suspended to preserve critical gear such as masks, gloves and gowns. The supply chain remains tight, demand is high and donations are still being collected to protect front-line workers.

Premier Health had been sending masks to Battelle to sterilize and reuse N95 masks.

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“The regulatory landscape around personal protective equipment continues to evolve rapidly,” Barbara Johnson, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Premier Health, said in a statement. “We were recently made aware that the Food and Drug Administration has granted one of our vendors, STERIS, temporary approval to sterilize and reuse masks. As a result, we have begun to bring this sterilization process in-house, resulting in faster turn-around times while still ensuring safe reuse of N95 masks.”

Premier Health employees write their names on their masks and have them returned to them after the cleaning process. Masks can be sterilized 10 times before they should be discarded, Premier said.

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