Frontline AHN caregivers using industrial grade respirator masks during COVID-19 pandemic

PITTSBURGH — Frontline caregivers are being provided with industrial grade respirator masks to help prevent exposure to the coronavirus at Allegheny Health Network hospitals.

The masks, which can be disinfected and reused repeatedly, filter out nearly 100 percent of airborne particulates, a news release from AHN said.

While the masks are not typically used in healthcare settings, a shortage of disposable masks caused by the worldwide pandemic had AHN looking for other options.

“This could be a game changer worldwide, and it’s really awesome that it was a local Pittsburgh company, and U.S. workers are making these things,” Dr. Sri Chalikonda, AHN’s Chief Medical Operations Officer, said.

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Advantage 200 Respirators are half-masks that are tight-fitting to cover a person’s nose and mouth, and they have twin removable filter cartridges.

AHN said its sterilization technicians will disinfect the masks between uses.

The Advantage 200 masks started to be used by AHN caregivers this week, officials said.

AHN is also using a mask sterilization and re-use program that allows N95 masks to be used more than once.

>>STORY: AHN now sanitizing, reusing N95 masks with CDC-approved process

“The Advantage 200 LS Respirator masks will be used by the same frontline AHN staff that are now wearing N95 masks -- including ICU and emergency department clinicians, or any caregiver working with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 positive patients,” the news release said.