(NBC) – The lack of PPE has doctors and nurses reusing masks intended to be used just once. A group of doctors in Michigan thought there might be a way to sterilize those masks.
Using a machine, Henry Ford Dermatologist Dr. Iltefat Hamzavi explains what started as an idea just last Friday became a reality at warp speed thanks to a partnership with an Ohio-based company called Daavlin.
“We use phototherapy equipment in our offices all the time to treat skin diseases. Well Daavlin was able to repurpose their devices, put in the UVC lamps then we brought it to Detroit and we tested it against actual masks,” he said. “We were able to show that we can keep the integrity of the mask, we can kill the virus and then the healthcare worker can reuse it.”
He continued, “Not all masks performed the same. You can irradiate all masks at least once but some masks you can go seven, eight, nine times and still be ok. So you have to clear about which masks you’re using and which light system you’re using to irradiate the masks and clear the virus.”
It is not something you can do at home.
“You can’t take a nail salon’s UV lamp and use it in your house and expect to kill the virus. So there’s a lot of photo-medicine that’s behind this.”
But they hope it can help those on the front lines.
“We’re really trying to show that our nurses, our docs, our PAs, our nurse practitioners, our staff in the ICUs and the ERs that we got their back. And we have allowed the very best minds in photomedicine to create a protocol in four days that usually takes about two years to do.”
The study is being published in the “Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.”
The researchers are sharing their initial findings and the protocol as they’re developing it, along with a manual and a how-to video.
They are doing additional testing, but say this is something other hospitals can start replicating right away.