OKLAHOMA CITY – Hospitals, health care workers, and first responders in Oklahoma will soon have the option of recycling their N95 masks with the state receiving a new decontamination system developed by Battelle, a global research and development organization headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.
The Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System is a self-contained, mobile system that uses high concentration, vapor phase hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate N95 masks.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM), has acquired a suitable location for the system in Muskogee and will support any logistics needs for the facility which will be up and running by the end of the month.
“Bringing in this decontamination system was an easy decision when we saw what it could do and how it could help our state,” OEM Director Mark Gower said. “We are coordinating with Battelle, OSDH and the site location to get the system in place and functional as quickly as possible.”
“The City of Muskogee is proud to partner with the State of Oklahoma to bring this service to Muskogee, with the goal of helping increase the access to critical protective equipment to health care professionals all over Oklahoma,” said Muskogee City Manager Mike Miller.
Battelle will transport the system to Oklahoma and provide staffing to run it.
Oklahoma will not incur a cost for the new service. Battelle was awarded a contract by the Defense Logistics Agency on behalf of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide N95 decontamination at no charge to health care providers.
“My first priority has always been to protect the health and lives of Oklahomans,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “This system will help us continue to protect our health care workers and first responders as we stay proactive in our fight against COVID-19. Oklahoma is better when we work together.”
“This system is a way to ensure an uninterrupted supply of critical PPE is available to health care workers and first responders in our state for the long-term,” Interim Health Commissioner Lance Frye said. “Oklahoma’s stockpile of PPE is in good shape now and through proactive partnerships like this we can add an extra layer of insurance that it will remain that way.”
“This is a great example of the partnership between FEMA, our state and local partners, and health care providers working together to implement innovative solutions to preserve valuable personal protective equipment for those frontline Oklahomans taking care of those in need,” said FEMA Region 6 Administrator Tony Robinson.
The Battelle system was created to address the global shortage of personal protective equipment and will serve to maximize Oklahoma’s PPE stockpile, which currently includes approximately 181,000 N95 masks.
Up to 10,000 masks can be decontaminated at a time. The process takes about 2.5 hours per batch and health care workers can expect to have cleaned masks back within approximately 72 hours of receipt at the processing facility. An N95 mask can be decontaminated up to 20 times without degraded performance.
A number of states have successfully implemented the system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and OSDH is working with health care officials in Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana to glean best practices for deploying the system locally.
Only N95 masks that do not contain cellulose can be processed at this time. Decontamination of KN95 masks and other forms of PPE (gowns, gloves, etc.) is currently prohibited.