Williams County Commissioners on Thursday agreed to purchase a locally produced machine that cleans and sterilizes protective facial masks.
And in the spirit of community altruism, the commissioners will allow anyone who may need the machine to utilize it.
“We’re looking at funeral homes, nursing homes ... We’ve got home health care aides going in and out of houses all day long,” said Commissioner Terry Rummel. “The idea is, don’t spread the disease.”
The machine is produced by Daavlin, located on West Bement Street in Bryan, and uses ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVC) to sterilize personal protective equipment such as facial masks so they can be reused.
Facilities across the country have reported a shortage of personal protective equipment, especially surgical masks, with some health care professionals re-using masks that were intended to be used just once.
Daavlin employees have been working increased hours to keep up with the sudden spike in demand. Bryan-based Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers has already obtained a machine and has a plan to use it, when and if necessary.
Rummel said the county reached out to Daavlin about obtaining a machine and the commissioners unanimously approved the purchase on Thursday, at a cost of $2,500, which is approximately how much it costs to build. Rummel said the machine usually sells for about $5,000.
The machine will be stationed centrally within the county, in the all-purpose room at The Enrichment Center, on Ohio 15 just outside Montpelier.
Rummel said the area has been cordoned off and, as of Friday afternoon, professionals were sterilizing the treys on which the masks will be placed. The county was also developing procedures to dictate its usage.
While it is not approved by the FDA, health experts and those at Daavlin say the equipment is effective. And according to a WDIV-TV report, health care professionals at the Henry Ford Health system in Detroit recently tested the machine and determined it could kill the virus and keep staff there safe.
“This is really exciting that Daavlin, a local business, is addressing this issue and helping to solve a international problem,” said Dan Yahraus, executive director of the Bryan Area Chamber of Commerce. “This is great for Bryan and great for the whole community.”
Anyone with need to use the machine can contact the Williams County Emergency Management Agency at 419-633-5005 to make coordinate plans.
“Your tax dollars paid for this,” Rummel said of the purchase. “We’re all in this together.”