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The chief nurse of the University Health System has developed a mask that has better filtration than N95 masks.
Nurse Tommye Austin used AC filter material she bought from Lowe’s to create 600 masks as stockpiles as San Antonia, Texas prepares for an increase in hospitalizations for coronavirus that are expected to occur in May , according to KSAT reports.
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“In the event that we have a wave of COVID-19 patients in San Antonio, which is expected to occur in May, we ensure that we have adequate and sufficient equipment for the employees,” Austin told KSAT. “Once we have learned that [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] had given us the ability to create masks, rather than using a bandana or handkerchief, we decided to consider creating our own N-95. “
Austin said the masks fit and look like an N95 mask, but research and testing by the Southwest Research Institute indicates that the new prototype actually has better filtration than the original masks,
“The mask has a filtration rate of 99.5% with one material and has a filtration efficiency of 97.8% with another material that we use,” said Austin. “So if the N95 masks have a 95% filtration efficiency, it means that they can eliminate at least 95% of the viruses or bacteria that try to pass through the mask. “
Austin said she hoped to produce and store at least 6,500 additional masks, each of which could be used twice if cleaned with proper sanitation equipment and protocols that would also be used on N95 masks.
“We have worked with the Southwest Research Institute to make sure that we just don’t develop something that we think is a good product, but something that we know is a good product using science,” said Austin. “There is not what we call a build-up of carbon dioxide, which could make you dizzy or (give you) a headache. It is comfortable and you can wear it for long periods. “
Austin said his hospital is sharing its design with other facilities in the region in the hopes that it can be useful to healthcare workers struggling to meet the demands of a growing pandemic.
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“Listening to the stories of New York nurses and other hot spots, it was just heartbreaking. As a nurse, we have to defend the interests of people, so my main goal was not to make money with this mask or anything. The main purpose of this mask was to keep people safe. “