Innovation Keeps Health Care Workers Protected

By 
Scott Stewart
The Daily Record

A national shortage of protective equipment for doctors, nurses and other health care workers is driving innovation to bridge the gap until supplies are restored.

Nebraska Medicine and the University of Nebraska Medical Center have developed a new method to decontaminate single-use personal protective equipment to extend their usefulness.

Ultraviolet light towers have been installed to irradiate masks.

“The shortage of PPE is a nationwide issue – each and every one of these items is increasingly precious,” said Dr. Mark Rupp, chief of the infectious diseases division at UNMC. “Although we were well prepared, our supplies were beginning to dwindle.”

Other hospital systems are starting to implement the same method.

Nebraska Medicine said that it’s working with community partners to receive donated masks and other supplies as well.

One of those partners is Metropolitan Community College’s Prototype Design Lab, which has converted to producing materials for Nebraska Medicine.

Ken Heinze, the lab coordinator at MCC, said volunteers are assembling 1,000 face shield masks.

“I’d rather be here in the lab making these masks than sitting at home waiting this thing out,” Heinze said in a statement.

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