Early in the coronavirus pandemic UC San Diego Health was one of only a handful of organizations across the nation that participated in a pilot with the company Stryker Sustainability Solutions to collect and reprocess vitally needed N95 masks.

Starting in March, while Stryker awaited an FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), and with input from the mask policy group, UC San Diego Health deployed a dual strategy. Stryker would place collection bins and provide collection services and education at both campuses. But when Stryker collected the masks, it only sent half of them to its facility for FDA validation of its process. The balance of the masks were redirected to UC San Diego Health’s Sterile Processing Division (SPD). The SPD team utilized existing Sterrad Sterilization Systems and manufacturer protocols to sanitize the N95 masks, after which they were sent to the health system’s storehouse as a contingency supply.  

At the end of May, and after two months of piloting the program, Stryker received its FDA EUA to decontaminate N95 masks using vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP). With approval from SPD, Infection Prevention Control and Epidemiology, supply chain and sustainability leadership, a decision was made to begin sending all of the masks to Stryker for decontamination. The EUA authorizes Stryker to reprocess each mask up to 10 times, which reduces waste and provides a new source of hard-to-find N95 masks for UC San Diego Health to purchase.