Chief nurse designs a mask that blocks more than 99% of airborne particles
From COVID19 Admin
“I just want my staff to be safe and I want anyone who is taking care of these patients to be safe,” said Austin as she explained why she began designing a replacement for the N95 masks traditionally worn by medical teams treating contagious patients.
Austin said she sprang into action when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced that healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients should cover their faces with bandanas or scarves if N95s weren’t available.
“Our nurses were up in arms. And I was alarmed as well,” she said. But instead of getting mad, she decided to get busy.
She bought some air conditioner filters from a local hardware store and began sandwiching pieces of the filters between layers of surgical draping. After experimenting with the components and adding a piece of metal that creates a snug fit across the bridge of the nose, Austin had a design that’s ready for prime time.
The Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio has tested the effectiveness of one version of the mask and verified that it screens out 99.5% of airborne particles. A second version blocks 97.8%.