Georgia College Donates Gowns and UV-C Lamps to Navicent Health Baldwin

Staff Report From Middle Georgia CEO

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

Two UV-C lamps—that disinfect against bacteria and viruses—have been donated by Georgia College to Navicent Health Baldwin Hospital, along with 100 medical gowns.
The lamps can be used to prolong the life of disposable isolation gowns, making them reusable at a time most hospitals are facing shortages from COVID-19.
UV-C lamps donated by Georgia College Department of Chemistry.

Using UV-C lamps to disinfect gowns during COVID-19 is just starting to gain national attention. UV-C radiation is a germicide that can kill 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses, including other coronaviruses.
“We all have a part to do. If everyone’s not doing their part to row the boat, then the boat may never make it to its destination,” said Dr. Sheri Noviello, dean of Health Sciences at Georgia College.
“I’ve been a nurse for almost 34 years,” she said. “The majority of my clinical experience was spent in the emergency room setting—experiencing heavy patient loads, chaos and tragedy. Life and death were a pretty routine occurrence. Even so, I have not experienced a pandemic like this in my career.”
Noviello reached out to chief nursing officer at Navicent Health Baldwin, Lorraine Daniel, who pinpointed a local critical need for hospital gowns. Problem-solving by distance, Noviello discovered there were 100 gowns at Georgia College Public Safety, as part of the university’s emergency management and disaster response program. They open to the back with a string for tying. A vinyl-like material covers the arms and legs.
“When a patient is in isolation—that requires a gown,” Noviello said. “Every healthcare personnel who enters the room must also put on a gown. Every time someone leaves that patient’s room, the gown must be thrown away.”
“Just imagine,” she said, “every time vital signs are taken, meds are given, a procedure is done—a gown must be worn for each entry into the room. That’s a lot of gowns.”
Noviello also realized heat from UV-C lamps could allow medical personnel to disinfect and safely reuse the gowns. She discovered the chemistry department had three UV-C lamps. Navicent Health Baldwin only needed two.
On campus, lamps are used in organic chemistry to illuminate molecules that shine under UV light and appear as different colors, said Dr. David Zoetewey, assistant professor of chemistry. In biochemistry, lamps are used to make DNA fluoresce.
“The UV lamps disinfect by disrupting DNA and RNA in any living organism like mold, bacteria or even a virus,” Zoetewey said. “UV light is a very high energy light that causes the DNA or RNA to become cross-linked, and this disrupts how well it can do its job inside a cell."
UV radiation causes sunburn, wrinkles, age spots and skin cancer. But UV-C is more dangerous to all genetic material. Normally, the ozone layer keeps people from direct exposure to UV-C. When produced artificially in lamps, however, the radiation can be used to break down pathogens in water and air or on surfaces. It renders germs incapable of functioning or reproducing.
Donations being delivered.
The UV-C lamps and gowns were donated to Navicent after Public Safety Director Brett Stanelle followed University System of Georgia (USG) protocols and received approval from GEMA (Georgia Emergency Homeland Security Agency). The items were picked up April 9 by Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Wayne Johnson and delivered to Navicent.
Georgia College also recently redistributed other medical supplies for hospitals, such as ventilators, googles, gloves, sanitizer, masks and shoe coverings.
“Checking in to see if there’s anything I can do has given me a bit of comfort,” Noviello said. “I contributed many years and long hours to the care of critically-ill patients. I understand the physical and emotional exhaustion that overwhelms you at times. Just when you think you can’t do it any more—you save a life, you make a difference, you get an occasional thank you or another team member gives you encouragement to carry on for the greater good.”
“My heart goes out to them,” she said, “Anything we can do to help is paled by the commitment and dedication of the nation’s healthcare teams.”