I went to the hospital today. I am not going to say which one. Suffice it to say it’s one of the larger ones in the Fox Cities. I am not sick. Quite the contrary. I am going to go back as a temp when the crisis hits Northeast Wisconsin. I’ve been an ICU nurse for 30+ years, and those of us that are well and able to help just have to step up to the plate.
So there are a lot of things that one must do to get back into it. I haven’t worked in a little over a year. So I had to have a fit test. What is that you ask? Well, a nurse or doctor cannot just pick up any old N95 mask and expect it to work. THAT IS WHY PUTTING A FILTER IN A MASK WILL NOT PROTECT YOU. A good quality mask that fits around your face and covers below the chin is the CDC recommendation for home made PPE. I cannot express this enough.
A fit test is where you sit in a small room where particles have been aerosolized. You put an N95 mask on that is attached to tubing. The tubing is attached to a machine that measures particles.
The machine is attached to the computer. The machine measures how many particles are between the mask and my face, or, inside of the mask. This is an N95 mask. This machine measures how many particles got in through the mask from the room.
So, I put it on.
So, you are asked to make movements with your face, like you are talking to a patient. Then you’re asked to do deep breathing. Then, you read a passage.
You are asked to bend over and move around. Head side to side, keep grimacing, talking etc.
Then the computer measures the particles that have built up between your face and the mask. What???? But I though it was N95! Well, it is. But that doesn’t mean anything if the fit isn’t right.
See that red bar? FAIL. This is what I am saying. You cannot just assume that a filter is going to save you. You must have a snug, occlusive fit. The general public NEEDS to wear masks, but they don’t need to make all kinds of fancy work and try to slip filters in and out of the mask. Find a good solid solution that people can adhere to.
I needed a totally different mask for work to have it be more occlusive. They found me one that was occlusive in addition to being N 95. Health care professionals need N95s, the general public doesn’t. This is the key. The occlusive nature of the mask is very very important. So when you see homemade masks that gap on the sides they won’t be as effective as this handmade one.
Start wearing masks everyone. It will definitely slow the transmission. My mask pattern will not be a guarantee that you won’t get COVID 19, but neither will any other ONE SINGLE THING. You need to wash your hands, your clothing, wear a mask and social distance. These will lower your risk considerably. Stay Well!!! Stay away from crowds and gatherings. And wear a mask.