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Free N95 decontamination system for health care facilities, first responders now available in Pa.

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A program to provide free N95 respirator decontamination to health care facilities, first responders, and other eligible organizations that might be experiencing a shortage of the respirators due to limited availability through normal procurement channels is now available in Pennsylvania.

The decontamination service is provided at no cost by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to Gov. Tom Wolf, who said we are “in the midst of an unprecedented shortage of personal protective equipment.”

The Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the decontamination and reuse of N95 respirators as needed during a time of crisis. The system uses a vaporous hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate the units.

A single Battelle CCDS site can decontaminate tens of thousands of N95s in a single day, according to a press release. The decontamination process permits the reuse of N95s, and each N95 can be decontaminated up to 20 times before it requires disposal.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is funding the operation of multiple Battelle CCDS sites across the country, with one located in Delaware County, the release said.

Eligible organization that wish to use the system must register and enter into a use agreement with Battelle, at which time they will receive additional guidance regarding the types of N95s that are allowed and instructions for shipping and delivery. The service is available for free — the federal government is absorbing 100 percent of the cost. The only cost to an eligible organization is for shipping to and from the site.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have determined that eligible organizations include hospitals, urgent care centers, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, cancer centers, pharmacies, dialysis centers, assisted living facilities, clinical laboratories, emergency medical services, and private practice/outpatient facilities. Use is not necessarily limited to these organizations, according to the press release.

Some situations exist where the following organizations might require its use if experiencing critical shortages of N95 respirators: law enforcement agencies, security firms, fire departments, hazardous materials units, public health departments, public works or utility companies, and emergency management agencies.