As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to strain the state’s supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), the State of Wisconsin has created a system for prioritizing distribution of state-acquired PPE. The state also recently announced a partnership that could help hospitals and clinics decontaminate certain N95 respirator masks, extending their useful life.
The state’s Emergency Operation’s Center (SEOC) – the central hub of state government COVID-19 activity – sent a message to numerous health care entities explaining that the state is prioritizing PPE distribution to those providing direct patient care, such as hospitals, clinics and long-term care providers. To streamline the distribution process, county and tribal emergency management directors are now in charge of the state-obtained PPE distribution process.
According to the SEOC message, care providers are expected to “make reasonable attempts to source PPE and other needed supplies locally and through existing supply channels” before approaching the state for PPE. At that point, providers are encouraged to reach out their local director for more information. Those directors can be found starting on page 17 of this directory
N95 Respirator Masks – Decontamination Update
This week the state’s Department of Health Services sent an alert to numerous health care entities with news of a public/private partnership allowing the state to obtain a decontamination system for N95 respirators, which could extend the life of this PPE by several-fold.
In partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Defense Logistics Agency in the U.S. Department of Defense, the state is expected to receive access by mid-May to a Battelle CCDS Critical Care Decontamination System
. The system uses hydrogen peroxide gas to decontaminate up to 10,000 N95 respirator masks daily. The N95s must be NIOSH-certified and cannot be cellulose based.
The state is developing a process to collect, decontaminate and then return N95 respirator masks to qualified health care personnel and will provide further details soon. In the meantime, Wisconsin health care providers interested in using the Battelle CCDS should retain used N95 masks for future decontamination, making sure to mark each mask with the name of the person to whom it was issued.