Situation: The emergency department environment requires the very best respiratory protection in the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disposable N95 respirators were designed for intermittent short-term use. Currently healthcare workers in the emergency department environment require respiratory protection throughout their entire shift. When N95 disposable respirators are utilized throughout an entire shift daily they lead to skin pressure ulcers, are exceptionally uncomfortable and can exacerbate underlying lung disease. The degree of discomfort leads to poor compliance, increased exposure risk, and distracts healthcare workers from the operational environment. Exceptional, safe, comfortable alternatives are required.
Background: SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 is likely transmitted through aerosols/droplets. Airborne+droplet+contact precautions are required in the emergency department setting. The safety of healthcare workers is paramount as local communities are dependent on healthcare workers to render care particularly in the setting of a national emergency. Healthcare workers need to feel safe and protected to adequately perform their job responsibilities. In addition, the emergency department required switching between different levels of protection, acuity levels in a uniquely dynamic environment.
Assessment: Elastomeric respirators and PAPRs are an exceptional long-term solution to the respiratory protection needs of healthcare workers in the emergency department. Elastomeric respirators are inexpensive, easy to fit test, user serviceable and provide exceptional protection. They have few drawbacks, however do muffle the user’s voice making communication more difficult (there are optional microphones/speaker systems to solve this problem). PAPRs provide a very versatile level of protection that can include near complete isolation from the operational environment. Most PAPRs hoods cover the entire head, face neck and shoulders. However, this level of protection is not always needed and covering the healthcare workers face / ears can make communication more difficult.
Solution: The Emergency Department ½ Faced PAPR Mask (ED1/2FPM) provides a strong overall solution. This device has the following features:
- It is exceptionally comfortable to ware in the emergency department environment.
- Covers the nose, mouth and neck.
- Does not require fit testing.
- Ventilates eye protection to prevent fogging.
- Is easy to done and doff. Multiple features prevent cross-contamination during doffing.
- The ED1/2FPM can be utilized with a PAPR hood for stage II protection. For intubation, aerosol generating procedures, increased risk of exposure a PAPR hood can be placed over the top of the ED1/2FPM, air will flow from the mask into the PAPR hood. When the PAPR hood is doffed the ED 1/2 Mask remains in place providing continued protection in the general emergency department operational environment.
- “Facemask” coverage of the nose and face for public health reasons.
- These masks can be laundered /disinfected by the user in a standard washing machine.
These mask can be manufactured in low quantities for less than $50 each, with less than $10 of supplies.
A low cost PAPR motor and filter would enable mass distribution of this product as a complete system to healthcare workers and enable universal access to exceptional protection, function, easy of use, improved compliance and comfort.