TORRANCE, CA — A shortage of N95 masks has led the Providence Southern California hospital group to take part in a new process for sanitizing masks for workers, they said.
The group announced Wednesday that they initiated a disinfection process for N95 medical masks to provide the highest level of protection to those who care for COVID-19 patients, as well as those awaiting test results.
Providence has been working for weeks to increase access to N95s and to activate local mask reprocessing centers by the end of the week to support each of the region's hospitals. Under the reprocessing operation, all masks will be returned to their original users, they say.
Providence Southern California medical offices and hospitals include:
Mission Hospital Laguna Beach
Mission Hospital Mission Viejo
Hoag Orthopedic Institute
Hoag Hospital Irvine
St. Joseph Hospital Orange
Hoag Hospital Newport Beach
St. Jude Medical Center Fullerton
St. Mary Medical Center Apple Valley
Providence Little Torrance
Providence Little San Pedro
Providence St. Joseph Medical Center Burbank
Providence St. John's Health Center Santa Monica
Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana
Providence Holy Cross Medical Center Mission Hills.
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Providence experts studied numerous reprocessing systems and adopted a method that protects the integrity of the mask, renders it germ-free, and which has been granted emergency-use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the hospital group.
Providence is confident in the quality of the process, "which has proven effective in destroying more resistant viruses than COVID-19, including poliovirus type 1 and herpes simplex 1," according to Sylvain Trepanier, a chief clinical executive for Providence Southern California.
"Our nurses, providers, respiratory therapists and others working the front lines deserve the best protection possible," Trepanier said. "We truly honor their dedication to our patients and are gratified we can ease their fears by reprocessing each individual's N95 mask, utilizing approved technology."
The disinfection system, coupled with donations of masks and deliveries ordered as the COVID-19 crisis loomed, has helped ease the limited supplies of personal protective equipment.
Nevertheless, there remains a severe global shortage of N95 masks, and conservation methods are critical.
Reprocessing masks has been touted by Gov. Gavin Newsom as well as leading national and local health agencies as a temporary solution to the shortage of protective gear, particularly N95 masks.
City News Service, Patch Staffer Ashley Ludwig, contributed to this report.
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