Pictured left to right: Sarah Hershey, Rachel Keto and Caitlin Carver. All three are nurses in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Allegheny General Hospital. Image courtesy of AHN/PR Newswire.

Industrial grade respirators can be used repeatedly and are expected to significantly reduce disposable N95 mask usage across network

PITTSBURGH — June 3, 2020 — Allegheny Health Network (AHN) announced it has partnered with MSA Safety to procure P100 industrial grade respirators that can be disinfected and reused repeatedly. Allegheny said in a release that the partnership is part of its efforts to assure that frontline caregivers have the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to help prevent exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) during the current pandemic.

The Advantage® 200 LS Respirator from MSA – which filters out nearly 100 percent of airborne particulates – is a mask not typically used in health care settings. However, because of the scarcity of disposable respirator masks caused by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, AHN has worked to identify options to mitigate the effects of the disposable mask shortage.

This effort comes after the FDA and CDC recently issued guidance that NIOSH-approved elastomeric respirators can complement a hospital’s PPE stockpile and serve as a viable alternative to N95 disposable masks.

Designed for reuse, the Advantage 200 Respirator is a half-mask, tight-fitting facepiece that covers a person’s nose and mouth, and comes equipped with twin removable filters. The masks are disinfected between uses by AHN’s sterilization technicians.

“When it comes to the personal protective equipment that keeps caregivers safe, our goal is for AHN to be as self-sustaining as possible while not compromising the safety of our caregivers and patients,” said Sri Chalikonda, M.D., AHN’s chief medical operations officer, in the release. “We want our clinical teams to be 100-percent focused on the care of our patients with full confidence that they have the PPE they need to do their jobs at this critical time.”

The Advantage 200 LS Respirator masks are used by ICU and emergency department clinicians, or any caregiver working with confirmed or suspected COVID-positive patients.

“MSA recognizes that fighting the spread of COVID-19 requires an all-hands-on-deck approach,” said Steve Blanco, president of MSA’s Americas business segment.   “We are pleased to be working alongside AHN and other leading health care providers to explore and deliver PPE solutions that are helping communities better respond to this unprecedented challenge.”

Blanco noted that reusable elastomeric respirators are currently not included in any replenishment plans associated with the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile for critical personal protective equipment.

“The work AHN is doing is a great example of how these kinds of respirators can help address challenges associated with procuring sufficient levels of PPE for healthcare workers,” he said.  “Given the fact that one reusable respirator can do the work of hundreds, if not thousands, of disposable masks, we think there’s a clear benefit of having elastomerics included in the Strategic National Stockpile.”

He added that MSA has been working to call attention to this opportunity.  “Our hope is that we can get this changed and help in the effort to protect our nation’s healthcare workers in the same way they’ve been working to protect us.”

Allegheny Health Network (AHN.org), a Highmark Health company, is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the greater Western Pennsylvania region. The Network is composed of 12 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, Health + Wellness Pavilions, an employed physician organization, home and community based health services, a research institute, and a group purchasing organization.

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