The couple and the conversation behind the sterilization technology of Battelle masks | WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio


Columbus, Ohio – A conversation between husband and wife resulted in technology that could save the lives of healthcare workers during this coronavirus pandemic.

Battelle, a nonprofit organization based in central Ohio, created Intensive care decontamination system to address the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the United States. The machines are capable of decontaminating up to 80,000 masks per day at full capacity.

10TV spoke with OhioHealth Medical Director, Provider and Associate Well-Being Dr. Laurie Hommema and her husband Kevin, senior researcher at Battelle to hear the story behind the breakthrough.

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It all started with a conversation the couple had on March 13 about the need for PPE.

“I said, you know it’s going to be a big problem. We are really trying to figure out how to keep the masks. I think maybe I even said, “Goodness, I wish we could reuse them,” “Dr. Hommema told me.

Her husband’s response caught her off guard.

“I specifically recalled a project from four or five years ago where we specifically used this method to decontaminate N95 masks and show that they are still reusable for very many times afterwards,” said Kevin Hommema.

Dr. Hommema called her boss at OhioHealth, Dr. Doug Knutson, to tell her what she had learned.

“I said,‘ Doug, Battelle has science. They did it! Can I examine him and investigate? “He said run with it,” said Dr. Hommema.

The rest was history. Less than 48 hours later, officers from Battelle met with OhioHealth. Within five days, OhioHealth sent the first shipment of PPE to Battelle so they could test the technology they had worked on for years.

“It has become the number one priority project in all of Battelle,” said Kevin Hommema.

The FDA finally approved the project. Battelle’s machines will help health workers not only in Ohio but also across the country.

“I don’t think its gravity and size really mattered to me,” said Dr. Hommema.

Kevin Hommema added: “By the time we are done with all this, how many hundreds of thousands or millions of masks could we have decontaminated? This is going to be quite special once we understand this. But, for the moment, no one is thinking about that. They’re just trying to get it done as quickly as possible. “

To learn more about the project, click here.


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