Local doctor working with Battelle to help clean N95 masks for health care workers

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — A Northeast Ohio native is part of Battelle’s effort to decontaminate face masks for frontline healthcare workers.

Dr. Alex Harrison graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine last month after four years of medical school and joined the response to COVID-19 in an unexpected way.

He’s in Tacoma, Washington working 12-hour shifts for 21 days for Battelle.

“It’s phenomenal. I get a hands-on opportunity to really help,” Harrison said. “This opportunity that I have now was so exciting because it’s something I can do, and I can actually have a first hand impact on what’s going on in the world.”

*Read more stories on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, here.*

The company is using vapor phase hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate n95 respirators for reuse by healthcare workers facing a shortage of personal protective equipment.

Harrison said he’s part of a team that’s inspecting used masks, then loading them into a shipping container chamber for decontamination.

Batelle said each of its Critical Care Decontamination Systems is able to decontaminate up to 80,000 N95 respirators per day.

“Every single mask that goes through that chamber after being found to be safe, non-soiled, is a mask going right on a healthcare worker’s face,” Harrison said.

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Once he finishes his three-week rotation with Battelle, Harrison said he will return to Northeast Ohio to begin a four-year OB/GYN residency with MetroHealth in June. He said his girlfriend is currently an emergency department resident at the hospital.

“Going through medical school, it never crossed my mind how I should handle my mask. There seemed to be plenty. But that’s not the way the world is. This is a reality check,” Harrison said.

He’ll soon be utilizing the same kind of masks he’s been working to sanitize.

“I wouldn’t be here, and a lot of other people wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, if it wasn’t for this phenomenal care,” Harrison said of healthcare workers.

Battelle says it has set up decontamination systems for masks at sites around the country. It’s also sanitizing masks for first responders in Ohio.

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