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Washington State has the sad distinction of the being the first US state to report a confirmed case of COVID-19, back in January. In February, the state was the first to announce a death from the disease. Now seven months later, the pandemic battle continues, but with hospitals more informed and better equipped.
In mid-April 2020, hospital resource use in Washington State was at its peak. TSI was also at peak production, with manufacturing staff working long hours to fill orders and ship products. In addition to PortaCount® Respirator Fit Testers, TSI customers were looking for solutions for testing ventilators, evaluating filter materials, setting up negative pressure isolation spaces, and other applications for products we provide.
In mid-April, EvergreenHealth, an integrated healthcare system in Kirkland, Washington, asked TSI’s Long Yang for help. They were struggling to complete respirator fit testing for over 4,500 staff across the health system. They had found qualitative fit testing—sometimes called the “taste test”—to be complicated and slow, requiring many steps. Ramping up qualitative testing wasn’t an option, but they had a limited supply of PortaCount® Respirator Fit Testers, which provide a 2.5-minute quantitative fit test.
At the time, TSI Sales Manager Long Yang was starting to feel the urgency and uncertainty of customers in his Pacific Northwest territory. In addition to fulfilling orders, he helped other organizations (like firefighters, police, and industry) procure and learn about the TSI instruments they needed for worker safety and compliance.
EvergreenHealth administrators realized that qualitative fit test equipment they had invested in was logistically unworkable. As cases mounted in the region, they were running out of time to fit test their staff, especially their nurses. They reached out to Long Yang for help.
Yang said, “EvergreenHealth had several locations across the region that needed to be fit tested in addition to their main medical center campus in Kirkland. They didn’t have enough PortaCount® systems, and cases of COVID-19 were mounting quickly in the Seattle area. EvergreenHealth urgently needed to get all their nurses tested and matched with respirators.
"I contacted TSI leadership and explained the situation,” Yang continued. “They immediately shipped two PortaCount® Respirator Fit Tester 8048-Ts, as well as their accessories and supplies. We hand-delivered the fit test kits as soon as they came. We helped them set up the instruments and software, and we stayed there long enough to train a couple of their shifts. They were grateful that TSI generously donated the fit testers, and very glad we helped the hospital staff protect their workers."
EvergreenHealth Employee Health Supervisor Therese Bovee-McKelvey, R.N., M.N., said about her staff, "They left the test feeling confident that their respirator would keep them safer from infection. It takes just one quantitative fit test to train staff better on what a properly fitting respirator feels like than any other training I’ve seen in my career. Our frontline workers were not only better protected, but were also learning how to use their PPE in the most effective manner."
About TSI Incorporated
TSI Incorporated serves a global market by investigating, identifying and solving measurement problems. As an industry leader in the design and production of precision instruments, TSI partners with research institutions and customers around the world to set the standard for measurements relating to aerosol science, health and safety, indoor air quality, air flow, and fluid dynamics. With headquarters based in the U.S. and field offices throughout Europe and Asia, TSI has established a worldwide presence in the markets we serve. Every day, our dedicated employees turn research into reality.