A lot of crazy ideas come out of the woodwork in a pandemic. But this one isn’t crazy. It comes from Johns Hopkins Hospital. And it actually works.
We have all been watching as the COVID pandemic out-strips our ability to produce enough equipment to protect our doctors and nurses. But it could be that the Personal Protective Equipment our healthcare workers need is all around us — we just have to round it up and get it to our hospitals.
According to an urgent “wanted letter” co-signed by Dr. Lisa Maragakis, Hopkins Senior Director of Healthcare Epidemiology and Infection Prevention and Bob Maloney, Hopkins Director of Emergency Management, “considering the anticipated surge, more healthcare providers will need personal respiratory protection and fast. In particular, we will need additional Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR’s)... We believe there are additional PAPR’s... purchased by non-healthcare entities that could also be utilized by healthcare workers...”
What kind of non-healthcare entities? Asbestos removal companies. Lead-abatement companies. Industrial painters. Insulators. And other environmental remediation trades.
Wow. So, it turns out the same Powered Air Powered Respirators used by asbestos removal companies — and other companies that do environmental remediation — can be repurposed in this pandemic to protect doctors and nurses. All of us have seen workers in these suits in the past — on construction sites, or painting bridges, or installing insulation.
And while the industrial-use suits are heavier than those designed for nurses and doctors, the Air Purifying Respirators are essentially the same as the ones used by doctors. All of which means they can be used, according to Hopkins, “on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19.” (See picture of 3M model TR-300 below)