The COVID-19 pandemic quickly became a global health crisis, which led to a surge in demand for medical personal protective equipment (PPE), particularly N95 respirators. In some cases, this resulted in extraordinary measures such as rationing, limiting the use of PPE to specific protocols and personnel, and focussing on the reprocessing (disinfection) of PPE. The Government of Canada and industry partners are developing strategies to manage potential future shortages of PPE. The option to replace single-use PPE with reusable or recycled PPE can be an alternative in ensuring unrestricted access to protective equipment in a crisis while proper and safe disposal of contaminated PPE for users needs to be well managed for the good of the environment. Innovative approaches must be developed to help Canada's health care system be in a better position to face such a pandemic in the future.
The NRC is partnering with Canadian company Clēan Works, whose Clēan Flow Healthcare Mini received Health Canada approval via the Interim Order application for reprocessing of N95 respirators. We are also exploring other collaborations to aid in the implementation and user acceptance of such approaches in the medical field. As part of this collaboration, we will facilitate linkages with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada to validate regulatory and governing considerations for these novel medical devices.
PPE Decon User Group
The PPE Decon User Group (PDUG) will unite Clēan Flow Healthcare Mini users and other health experts to discuss and ultimately facilitate the introduction and implementation of such devices into the Canadian health care system.
The objectives of the user group are to:
- conduct an evaluation study to assess the long-term implications and feasibility of utilizing Clean Flow Healthcare Mini and other such products in the medical field
- engage with Canadian regulatory and governing organizations and have an impact on the introduction of novel medical devices into the Canadian health system
- develop protocols and treatment procedures for effective use of the sterilization of PPE as well as identify best practices around reprocessing
- build a network and meet people with similar interests and needs
- gather as a group to share concerns and best practices
This communication platform will facilitate discussions on critical topics, such as:
- new technical progress review on decontamination methods and recommendations from decision makers
- key learnings and best practices
- the development of a forward-looking plan
The PDUG will offer an opportunity to share knowledge and on-the-field experiences among members. Members will address the needs of the health care system, build solutions together and work as a national team to support and develop guidelines on best practices for implementation and decontamination. This will ensure longer life for medical equipment while reducing the impact of PPE shortage over time and reducing waste produced by single-use PPE.
The evaluation study
The PDUG will also take a leading role in an evaluation study put in place by the NRC in support of this initiative.
The evaluation study has 3 key objectives:
- Evaluate the impact of repeated PPE reprocessing on their performance
- Determine the need and subsequently adapt the application of this technology in the health care environment
- Address the issues and barriers relevant to uptake of sanitization devices or of reprocessing in general
Research collaborators using these units are at the core of the user group. Health experts who have an interest in, or knowledge on, decontamination of PPE or reprocessing of PPE are also invited to join the group.
If you are interested and want to contribute to the PDUG, contact Carole Duval, Strategic Advisor, Medical Devices Research Centre.
If you are interested in the Clēan Flow Healthcare Mini sanitization device, contact Priyum Koonjul-Myburgh, Client Relationship Leader.
User Group meetings
Monthly PDUG meetings are planned. Contact Carole Duval, Strategic Advisor, Medical Devices Research Centre, for details and to register.