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A unique use of UV light

Published: May 26, 2020
Marko Predic, an infection preventionist at UF Health Jacksonville, fully designed the room for cleaning N95 masks with UV light. View Larger Image
Marko Predic, an infection preventionist at UF Health Jacksonville, fully designed the room for cleaning N95 masks with UV light. View Larger Image
Carts are placed in the cleaning room, per marked areas, to safely and successfully clean masks. View Larger Image
N95 masks are hung in the cleaning room with clothespins in the same direction and at an appropriate distance from one other to ensure safe cleaning. View Larger Image

UF Health Infection Prevention and Control turns to UV light to sanitize N95 masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Infection Prevention and Control team at UF Health Jacksonville has consistently proven its ability to problem solve and keep staff safe.

Because of an impending shortage of N95 masks in March, Infection Prevention and Control explored multiple ways to plan ahead, including baking masks or using wet heat to sanitize them. One particular method that was already proven with appropriate evidence stood out — using ultraviolet light to clean masks.  

A seamless and safe process

Infection Prevention and Control spearheaded the efforts to start cleaning masks as soon as possible. The team quickly secured a room to use the UV light and developed an efficient process to gather masks from multiple units.

The process begins with physicians, nurses and other providers wearing N95 masks. Each health care worker labels their mask to ensure they receive and use the same one after it is cleaned. At the end of their shifts, they simply hang their masks using a clothespin on a transportation cart. The cart is taken to the UV cleaning room by technicians, who line up the masks to be cleaned. Masks are marked each time they’re cleaned. They can be cleaned and reused up to three times.

Marko Predic, an infection preventionist at UF Health Jacksonville, was the architect behind the project. He fully designed the UV room, developed the cart system to ensure appropriate safety measures and crafted clear and effective instructions for employees. 

Training and collaboration

Because multiple units were using N95 masks, training needed to occur swiftly. Infection Prevention and Control arranged training sessions at night to ensure all units could learn the process before or after their shifts. Each employee participant received instructions for handling and placing masks in carts to be properly cleaned. Predic guided responses to questions and concerns and ensured all aspects of the process were discussed with employees.

The process has been seamlessly integrated in at least seven units on campus. Infection Prevention and Control personnel continue to serve as the experts should any employee have questions or concerns. In addition, the Human Resources department has played a large part by deploying available employees to assist with handling carts, transporting masks to the cleaning room and hanging masks appropriately.

“This was a massive team effort from the Human Resources manpower pool and our Infection Prevention and Control team,” Predic said. “Though every new process encounters some hiccups along the way, each team member absorbed this well.”

The new normal

Predic believes this method of cleaning N95 masks will continue for the foreseeable future. The process has also expanded to UF Health North as leaders keep tabs on COVID-19 to adjust accordingly. With the process being proven safe and effective, per federal guidelines, it remains the best option to guarantee a source of N95s for all UF Health employees requiring them. 

Marko Predic, an infection preventionist at UF Health Jacksonville, fully designed the room for cleaning N95 masks with UV light.
Marko Predic, an infection preventionist at UF Health Jacksonville, fully designed the room for cleaning N95 masks with UV light.
Carts are placed in the cleaning room, per marked areas, to safely and successfully clean masks.
N95 masks are hung in the cleaning room with clothespins in the same direction and at an appropriate distance from one other to ensure safe cleaning.

For more information, please contact:
UF Health Media Relations
904-244-3268