FEMA sending three decontamination systems to Virginia
Systems are able to sterilize up to 240,000 pieces of protective medical gear for reuse per day
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved sending Virginia three decontamination systems that can collectively sterilize up to 240,000 units of personal protective equipment (PPE) per day for reuse, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Saturday.
The Battelle Critical Care Decontamination Systems, which will be operational within the next week, will be stationed at the Marching Virginians Center on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg; a warehouse in Newport News; and at the Vietnam Veterans Pavilion at the Chesterfield County Fairgrounds.
Federally funded through FEMA and the Defense Logistics Agency, the systems are being provided to the state government at no cost for the first six months. Health care providers will not be charged for decontamination services. The systems are manufactured by Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle Memorial Institute, a nonprofit applied science and technology development company.
A Battelle decontamination system that was put into operation in Washington, D.C., last week is already being used by health care systems in Northern Virginia, Maryland and D.C. The system in Blacksburg will support Virginia and West Virginia and will be jointly operated by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
The Battelle system employs a concentrated hydrogen peroxide vapor to decontaminate N95 masks, allowing the masks to be sterilized and reused up to 20 times without degraded performance.
“An ongoing, stable supply of PPE is key to moving Virginia forward from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Northam said in a statement. “This innovative new technology will extend the life of critical PPE like N95 masks, giving our medical facilities and first responders greater access to much-needed supplies and helping the commonwealth manage our resources amid a nationwide shortage.”