The largest healthcare system in Georgia has plans to purchase seven new machines to sanitize masks, gowns, hoods and other protective equipment so they can be reused in the battle against COVID-19.
The purchase of this breakthrough technology for Emory Healthcare was made possible through a $5 million grant from the James M. Cox Foundation.
For healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic, the new Bioquell™ machine is a game changer. The machine uses vaporized hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate medical equipment in about two hours. Emory is first using the machine to decontaminate PAPR (powered air-purifying respirator) hoods and is testing the machine to decontaminate N95 masks, isolation gowns and disposable stethoscopes.
“Fighting this pandemic requires all of us doing what we can to support our frontline workers,” said Jim Kennedy, chairman, Cox Enterprises. “We’re excited to help with this new technology to enable hospitals to sterilize and reuse vital equipment that is in such short supply. We’re concerned that some businesses may open prematurely and we’ll see a spike in cases, making the need for PPE equipment even more important.”
Across the country, medical workers are facing a critical shortage of hoods, medical gowns and other protective equipment. When dealing with other infectious diseases like the Ebola outbreak, PAPR hoods were discarded after each use.
The Bioquell machine allows equipment to be reused by generating a fine mist of vaporized hydrogen peroxide that is blown around a decontamination room, penetrating and sanitizing the interior and exterior of the hoods.
Emory is currently using the hoods in drive-through testing clinics, which evaluate more than 200 patients a day.
“The speed with which we can turn around the (equipment) and get it back out into the field is terrific,” said Dr. Colleen Kraft, Associate Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Emory University School of Medicine. “We are incredibly grateful for the support from the James M. Cox Foundation which has allowed us to purchase these.”
In March, the Foundation announced the $5 million grant to Emory Healthcare, which was also used to purchase COVID-19 testing equipment. The foundation also partnered with Emory University to create the Feed the Frontline initiative, with a goal of serving more than 45,000 free meals to medical workers and first responders.