Facemask and N95 Respirator Recommendations

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This recommendations document was developed to provide education and guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for H1N1 pandemic influenza in the face of confusing, and sometimes conflicting, guidance from federal agencies. Although questions about use of PPE surfaced early among some of our colleagues, the need to have clear and specific guidelines became evident as University of Minnesota (U of M) planners reviewed the quantities of stockpiled equipment they had available, as well as limited resources related to appropriate individual fit-testing for respirators.

An ad hoc task force was convened with representation from the Office of Occupational Health and Safety, AHC Office of Emergency Response, Boynton Health Service, School of Public Health, and Department of Emergency Management. The task force met in person and communicated via e-mail. In addition to developing these recommendations, the task force reviewed quantities of stockpiled equipment and determined the need for additional purchases.

The recommendations were shared with the pandemic influenza response team and were available to Human Resources professionals on campus for use in addressing employee questions and concerns about use and availability of PPE. Thankfully, employee concerns about PPE were minimal and a major educational focus on this topic was not required. The document was used as a reference for conducting N95 fit-testing activities on campus and for purchasing additional equipment. The recommendations also specifically address the need for appropriate PPE for residence hall health advocates and other congregate living facility employees who may have close contact with persons with influenza-like illness. This document will be revised as needed, using a similar process, to address PPE recommendations during future pandemics.

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