The Healthcare Coalition for Emergency Preparedness reports that California manufacturer of medical waste sterilization equipment, San-I-Pak, has been collaborating with local hospitals that have now tested and started sterilizing certain disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) with these large autoclaves already onsite.
This comes at a time when many healthcare workers fear there is not enough PPE available so that they can treat coronavirus patients and stay safe. Sterilizing of PPE can be done at hospitals and Veterans Medical Centers around the country that have onsite waste sterilization systems.
"California hospitals are trying to get ahead of the curve on PPE shortages," said Darrell Henry, executive director at the Healthcare Coalition for Emergency Preparedness, in a statement. "Sterilizing PPE onsite at hospitals could help aid our country through this crisis."
According to a press release, the results of the testing indicate that these large-scale autoclaves are effective at sterilizing specific types of surgical masks, isolation gowns and eye protection to enable reuse. PPE made with cloth/linen, polycarbonate and polypropylene were determined to be suitable for steam sterilization in the San-I-Pak equipment. These large autoclave systems can serve a dual purpose to process PPE in addition to regulated medical waste (RMW) without any changes to the systems, stated to the release.
For cities that do not have this equipment at any of its area hospitals or are in immediate need of additional capacity, there is a solution readily available—a mobile sterilizer unit (MSU) that is on a trailer that can be trucked to any location with a flat space the size of a mobile shipping container, a dedicated power supply and a drain for the purposes mentioned above. The MSU also could be used to temporarily process RMW during a patient surge, which would dramatically increase output of medical waste.
"To help lower the overall demand for PPE, all VA [Veterans Affairs] facilities across the country with RMW waste equipment could sterilize their PPE," added Henry. "They could also share their capacity for PPE reuse with area hospitals without such equipment under the VA's fourth mission."