A machine that can decontaminate up to 80,000 respirator masks per day is coming to the Boston area, in what could represent a game-changer for Massachusetts hospitals battling the novel coronavirus that has killed thousands nationwide.
Partners HealthCare, Battelle and the City of Somerville announced a partnership that will offer hospitals, first responders and medical professionals the new, regional resource as they battle COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, amid a widespread shortage of personal protective equipment.
“This is a critically important step forward in our efforts to protect health care workers on the front lines,” said Dr. Paul Biddinger, Medical Director for Emergency Preparedness at Partners HealthCare. “By sterilizing 80,000 masks per day, this region will have a greatly improved supply of N95 respirator masks, keeping our workforce safe, ultimately improving access to care for patients in need during this pandemic.”
The Battelle CCDS Critical Care Decontamination System is scheduled to be operational in the Boston-area next week. It will be hosted by Partners HealthCare near Assembly Row in Somerville, at the currently empty former K-mart store. It will be just the fourth such site in the country.
“The Battelle team has been working around the clock for several weeks to build, test and mobilize this system so we can increase the supplies of critically needed personal protective equipment in Boston and cities around the U.S.,” said Matt Vaughan, Battelle’s Contract Research President.
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone secured the site using emergency powers he was granted amid the city's response to the coronavirus crisis.
"We've got to move fast and be nimble to handle the coming coronavirus surge. It hasn't even been a week since Battelle's technology got approved by the FDA," Curtatone said. "Partners is able to bring it over and we're able to provide them with a facility where they can use it.
The mayor said the efforts are how things are "supposed to work in a crisis."
“Everybody comes together to do big things. The whole purpose of having emergency powers at a time like this is to use them. In this case, we're able to put technology into production that's going to protect the frontline healthcare workers who are protecting all of us," Curtatone said.