WVU Medicine pilots the use of MSA half mask respirators

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

WVU Medicine has obtained MSA half mask respirators (pictured) to protect healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients.

MSA respirators are similar to N95 and CAPR respirator masks and are fit tested. The filters are expected to last up to a full year in a healthcare environment that is clean and free of heavy dirt, dust, and particulate.

These MSA respirators are being distributed system-wide as a pilot effort and are first being assigned to these high-risk groups:

  • Emergency Department personnel (e.g., doctors, APPs, nurses, and others who work directly with patients)
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists

The system is piloting this effort to help conserve PPE, while still ensuring healthcare worker and patient safety.

According to Steve Hoffmann, MD, who is leading WVU Medicine’s COVID-19 efforts, the MSA respirators are as good or better than N95 and CAPR respirator masks.

“The only downsides with these masks are that it can be difficult to communicate and the appearance may be off-putting to some patients,” Dr. Hoffmann said. “However, if the pilot efforts goes smoothly, more high-risk groups at WVU Medicine will begin using these masks.”

Hoffmann added that employees may see healthcare workers adding a second mask on top of the middle vent on the MSA respirators as an added precaution.

Other academic medical centers around the country are starting to use these masks as an alternative to N95 and CAPR respirator masks.

Employees with questions about the MSA respirators can contact Brandon Knotts, director of safety, at: brandon.knotts@wvumedicine.org.