As part of its rapidly mobilizing response to the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) caused by COVID-19 pandemic, Partners HealthCare has secured a machine that can sterilize up to 80,000 N95 respirator masks a day. N95 masks are typically discarded after use, but the worldwide shortage of the masks has created pressing need to find ways to reuse them.

This machine, which is expected to be functional by early next week, is the result of a collaboration with Battelle, a research nonprofit based in Columbus, Ohio, and the City of Somerville and will be hosted near Partners HealthCare’s corporate offices in Assembly Row—one of only four sites in the country where the technology is available. Battelle’s system—approved by the FDA just last week—uses concentrated hydrogen peroxide vapor to decontaminate the masks—a process that can be repeated on the same mask up to 20 times.

“This is a critically important step forward in our efforts to protect health care workers on the front lines,” said Paul Biddinger, MD, chief of emergency preparedness at Massachusetts General Hospital. By sterilizing 80,000 masks per day, this region will have a greatly improved supply of N95 respirator masks, keeping our workforce safe, ultimately improving access to care for patients in need during this pandemic.”

"We've got to move fast and be nimble to handle the coming coronavirus surge,” said City of Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone. “It hasn't even been a week since Battelle's technology got approved by the FDA. Partners is able to bring it over and we're able to provide them with a facility where they can use it. This is how it's supposed to work in a crisis. Everybody comes together to do big things.”

Read more: Partners press release