Every night at 9pm the applause becomes the soundtrack of Argentina as a way of paying tribute to those who fight on the front line against the coronavirus: the health professionals, who daily expose themselves to high probabilities of catching COVID- 19. With the aim of caring for those who care for us, professionals from CONICET and the Balseiro de Bariloche Institute created “Another way to applaud”, a solidarity campaign to provide healthcare personnel with protective face masks.
In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, health workers usually partially cover their faces, exposing themselves to high-risk situations by being in contact with likely infected.
“In this situation, the challenge was how we could collaborate to protect health personnel,” he told TN.com.ar Maria Luz Martiarena, PhD in Physics from the Balseiro Institute and one of the five members of the campaign’s technical team. “We wanted to achieve full face protection with a filter that prevents droplets from entering. As we had some international examples, we got to work, “he explained.
In this way, five professionals in the technical team, four doctors and a dissemination group set to work and, independently and in telework mode, began to elaborate “full face” masks for health personnel.
“This project is the result of many individuals, officials, academic institutions, and industry partners coming together for a common goal: protect frontline workers at a difficult time, ” they explain from the campaign page.
Now they need the solidarity contribution of those who want to contribute either financially or by donating supplies (snorkel masks and / or filters).
The project is entirely in solidarity and the masks are not commercialized: They only deliver them to health personnel who request them through the page. “Everything that goes in, comes out. We do it to help health personnel, is our commitment “, assured this medium Graciela Bertolino, PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the Balseiro Institute and part of the team.
“We already distribute more than 60 for him Garrahan Hospital and the Bariloche Zonal Hospital and next week we hope to send another 150. We receive orders from different provinces, “explained Bertolino.
How are the “Full face” masks
The “Full Face” mask is a kit of parts consisting of a snorkel mask ready to use, a custom adapter and a filter equal or superior in quality to that of the N95 chinstraps.
“The typical N95 respirator chinstrap can block at least 95 percent of bacterial and viral particles on a scale of submicron length, and is the usual and necessary element for use by health workers who deal with patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, “they explain from the campaign page.
However, they highlight that most of N95 respirators were designed as disposable, “which means that they are not fit to be reused or retained for an extended period of time.” However, in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the rapid depletion of supplies caused many health workers to be forced to use disposable respirators multiple times, something that can create an extra risk of infection.
Also, the chinstraps do not cover the entire face, leaving the eyes exposed to contaminated fluids.
In contrast, “full face” masks provide a full face shield and an air seal while allowing a controlled flow of intake and exhaust through the filter. “In addition, they can be sterilized and recycled”, Martiarena highlighted.