N95 Masks

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N95 Masks

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During the 2020 Pandemic my job shutdown like many others, but since it is part of the larger UNC hospital systems it was able to start a labor pool and my coworkers and I began working at the UNC Medical Center. The first day I was told that I would be working in environmental services, which means cleaning patient rooms. During my second day the manager told me that I needed to follow him after lunch and we started what would become a 6 month long journey. Day after day I slowly learned to navigate the large medical center, through multiple buildings all floors, all departments were going through masks.
Every day I would travel to floors where Covid-19 patients would be in isolation rooms and slowly the floors were restricted to essential personnel. But my two coworkers and I, all seemed out of place. We would travel to each floor to collect the N95 masks that were discarded for sterilization. We would also receive boxes of use masks from other UNC Hospitals around the state.
The process was for the three of us to go to each floor and collect the masks, bring them to a "dirty room" and sort out trash and masks that were either dirty due to makeup or that were broken or were not N95 masks. From there we would count the masks that we thought that could be cleaned and put them in boxes waiting for sterilization. We went through four sterilization processes, and the first three did not meet standards so the final process did work and was approved.
The final process used an aerosolized hydrogen peroxide that would be in a converted shipping container that would circulate air and the hydrogen peroxide over and around the masks. After this process was complete we would take the masks out of the container and take them to a "clean room" and sort them once again for masks that had made it through our first screening and then we would package them for future use if necessary. Hopefully those masks will never be used.
By the time I left that job there was talk that UNC was close to getting a provider for new masks!

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English Healthcare

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This item was submitted on October 16, 2020 by Marco Craige using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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