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New company approved to decontaminate N95 masks in Ohio

FDA issues Emergency Use Authorization.

IRVINE, Calif. — It was big news when Columbus-based Battelle was given the OK to sterilize the much-needed N95 masks for health care workers. Now, a second company has been approved to help alleviate the shortage.

It’s a shortage that’s killing not just our spirits, but our health care workers. As Sasha Winslow, a Registered Nurse in New York said during a protest, "I don't want to be in a body bag. I need you to take this seriously."

But hot on the heels of Battelle's contract to clean N95 masks that many workers are forced to reuse, the Food and Drug Authorization issued an Emergency Use Authorization for California-based Advanced Sterilization Products.

Dominic Ivankovich, President of ASP, explains their process this way:

"Maybe if you had a cut, you would use Hydrogen Peroxide to make sure that that cut was sterile," ASP President Dominic Ivankovich told us. "We use some things that are obviously a lot more sophisticated in terms of using Hydrogen Peroxide. But, similar types of applications to kill bacteria, viruses and spores, to safely sterilize devices before they're reused in surgical applications."

For years, ASP has supplied thousands of hospitals across the world with machines to sterilize heat sensitive surgical equipment. But they were never used for masks. Ivankovich says when they were trying to figure out how they could help in the crisis, all of a sudden a light bulb went off.

"Historically, these are things that have been disposable and there hadn't been such a supply constraint," he explained. "But, obviously we're in much different scenario right now, and so we saw that there was an opportunity."

Fisher Titus Medical Center in Norwalk is one of at least five hospitals in Ohio using the machines to sterilize masks. Vice President of Surgical Services says it's not only helping their supply line, but it’s saving the lives of their employees. 

"We mark them with individual users, with their name," she said. "It's kind of a unique number that we assigned to each person by department, and they're getting their own mask back.

"When you're able to have that comfort of knowing that you're going to be able to have that PPE available for your staff, it is a game changer."

And according to ASP, that's what matters most. 

"There are people who are doing incredible work," Ivankovich said. "Ours is just one small part that we can play to try to make that job a bit safer, a bit easier, and to put all of those people in the best position to get back to normal."

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