UV Light Used to Disinfect Masks for Omaha Community

OrthoNebraska has partnered with local healthcare and first responder organizations to safely and effectively collect and disinfect N95 respirators for reuse in the community.

In collaboration with the Omaha Metro Healthcare Coalition, OrthoNebraska will utilize an Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) process and technology similar to that developed by Nebraska Medicine. Once fully operational, hundreds of masks will be safely disinfected every day.

“OrthoNebraska is excited about the opportunity to support our area health care workers and first responders,” says Nicholas Bruggeman, MD, Chief Medical Officer at OrthoNebraska. “By providing this service to others, we effectively extend the life of highly valuable personal protective equipment in the community. OrthoNebraska is honored to play that role and do what we can in this truly challenging time.”

OrthoNebraska will be taking in used N95 respirators by fellow coalition members and organizations in Douglas, Sarpy, Washington, Saunders & Dodge counties. Masks must be clearly labeled and delivered in clear plastic totes. Proper labeling is important in ensuring masks are returned to the original wearer.

Used N95 masks are taken by decontamination teams to a specially outfitted room and clipped to a wire near a UV light tower. After powering on, the process takes roughly 45-minutes to complete. OrthoNebraska hopes to disinfect more than 100 at a time.

“Our decision to do this was not solely based on extending the life of our own supply,” says Bruggeman. “But also, about ensuring other organizations in the surrounding community have access to the necessary equipment to extend the life of their supply as well. It is critical to being able to do our jobs safely and successfully.”

Coalition Coordinator, Justin Watson, agrees. “I am grateful to OrthoNebraska for their eagerness to lead this initiative, and incredibly thankful for the camaraderie shown by many groups in combating the spread of COVID-19.”

OrthoNebraska expects the free service to be fully operational this week.

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