Disinfecting and Reusing PPE During COVID-19
As New Mexico continues to prepare for an expected surge in COVID-19 patients, the state’s three largest health systems have taken a thoughtful and practical approach to protecting our health care workers.
We have used research from Food and Drug Administration as well as the guidance of other states and countries to develop processes for safely and effectively disinfecting personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes disposable N-95 respirators and other equipment that can be hard to find and crucial to the care we are providing to our patients.
There are several evidence-based processes that have been developed for disinfection, including the use of vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP), the use of ultraviolet (UV) light and the use of heat. Each of these approaches has been tested and verified. We may use different processes at different times, depending on each entity’s capacity and need. We appreciate work by the State to procure a large VHP system for disinfection that can be used by multiple entities across New Mexico.
PPE plays a critical role in keeping our workforce and patients safe. Photos of nurses with markings from masks worn for the entirety of a 12-hour shift, makeshift gowns made out of trash bags or other materials at out-of-state hospitals that do not have supplies are situations that we can avoid through disinfection for reuse. By making responsible decisions now to conserve materials, we can ensure our teams and communities stay protected.
We thank each and every one of our health care workers who are our heroes. Please do your part to protect our community by staying home and practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene. Pray, reflect or send positive energy to those who are saving lives every day.