Meet The Columbus Couple Behind The Push To Decontaminate PPE For Front Line Workers

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Dr. Lauri Hommema and her husband Kevin Hommema met nearly two decades ago while they were both working at Battelle. Kevin is a Principal Research Scientist at Battelle and Lauri is a family physician with OhioHealth, and they recently had one of the most important post-dinner conversations ever.

The couple had finished eating and they were chatting about the coronavirus and the impact it was having not only at the hospital where Lauri worked but around the world as well. Lauri mentioned that OhioHealth only had a certain amount of N95 respirators left and Kevin offhandedly replied, “Why don’t you just clean them up and reuse them?”

That lightbulb moment was the spark for a huge win in the fight against COVID-19.

Battelle had been decontaminating surfaces and equipment for years and the pair quickly realized that it could be an option for much-needed PPE at local hospitals.

So the Hommemas reached out to their colleagues at OhioHealth and Battelle to see how they could move forward. Within days, both companies were working together on a path forward towards reusing PPE and putting a dent in the critical, nationwide shortages.

“When the right decisions are made for the right reasons, it’s pretty incredible what you can do,” said Kevin.

PPE inside of Battelle’s Critical Care Decontamination System via Facebook

The decontamination systems are being used across the country now, including here in Ohio, New York, and Washington. Additional systems are scheduled for operation in Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, the Washington, D.C. area, and the federal government just awarded a contract for the system to be used at 60 sites across the country. “The impact that it’s having on the healthcare community across the nation, it’s humbling,” said Lauri.

The Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System is a self-contained, mobile decontamination system that uses vapor phase hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate N95 respirator masks. Through the system, N95 respirators can be cleaned up to 20 times. To learn more about the Critical Care Decontamination System, you can visit Battelle’s website here or check out this great New York Times article that looks at the system in action.

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