In the midst of mask shortages for medical employees, one nurse's invention may be more effective than the widely used N-95 mask.
According to KSAT News, Tommye Austin, chief executive nurse at University Health System, wanted to make more masks for frontline medical workers by May — when a surge in COVID-19 cases is predicted to occur.
"Once we learned that the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) had given us the ability to create masks, rather than using a bandana or a handkerchief, we decided to look at creating our own N-95," Austin told KSAT.
Naturally, she went to Lowes for supplies. Using an AC filter material, the mask Austin designed fits and seals across face similarly to a N-95.
An important difference was discovered when she had the masks tested by the Southwest Research Institute, though.
"The mask has a filtration rate of 99.5% with one material and has a 97.8% filtration efficiency with another material we are using," Austin said. That's an approximately 3% increase in efficiency compared to the 95% filtration efficiency of the N-95 mask.
An added bonus of these masks, according to Austin, is that they don't cause a carbon dioxide buildup, which can result in headaches and dizziness.
Austin is working with the Southwest Research Institute to manufacture the masks, which can be used at least twice with proper sanitation procedures. So far they've produced 600, and plan on making 6,500 more.
Austin is sharing the design with anyone that needs it in the San Antonio area. "As a nurse, we are to be advocates for people, so my primary goal was not to make money ... the main purpose of this mask was to keep people safe."
Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.
San Antonio Current works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of San Antonio and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep San Antonio's true free press free.