Syracuse Crunch lend machines to clean personal protective equipment

Crunch lend machines to clean personal protective equipment

Area hospitals will use Sani Sport technology to sanitize frontline healthcare workers’ face shields.
Published: April 16, 2020
Syracuse Crunch loaned two Sani Sport machines to Upstate Hospitals to help clean face shields.
The Syracuse Crunch’s Sani Sport machines, which typically cost $13,000-$16,000, will be used by Upstate hospitals to clean face shields.

The Syracuse Crunch has delivered extra attackers to area hospitals in support of frontline healthcare workers’ battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

The Crunch equipment staff has loaned two Sani Sport machines, typically used to disinfect players’ gear and training rooms, to clean the personal protective equipment frontline healthcare workers are using as they treat COVID-19 patients at Upstate University Hospital and Upstate Community Hospital.

Upstate CEO Dr. Robert Corona said University Hospital plans to use one machine to clean 30 face shields per hour starting next week because of its effectiveness at disinfecting hard surfaces.

Frontline healthcare providers treating patients displaying COVID-19 symptoms typically don the plastic face shields over their N95 mask.

“It allows our frontline workers to wear the masks longer,”  Corona said. “They would usually dispose of a mask after a single use.”

Sani Sport President Steve Silver describes the two machines the Syracuse Crunch have loaned to Syracuse area hospitals and how his company's technology disinfects hard surfaces.

Corona estimated that his hospital “burns through” about 200 face shields per day, but the ability to clean gear like face shields will help fortify the hospital’s PPE stockpile.

“Every state is kind of fighting on the open market for more PPE, so the less we have to buy…the better,” Corona said. “We know we’re in good shape today, but tomorrow, if we get 27 positive [coronavirus] cases in our ICU, that ramps up the amount of PPE we have to use. If we peak earlier than we anticipate and we can’t flatten the curve the way we had hoped, we could have a logarithmic increase in the number of PPE we use in a day.”

In conjunction with limited preliminary testing of the machines, Corona said his team found published research illustrating the technology’s effective kill rate against the MERS virus, plus additional viruses related to coronavirus and other bacteria.

“The additional Sani Sport machine will be used to decontaminate face shields and we are running trials on this now at Upstate Community Hospital,” Upstate media relations manager Kathleen Froio said. “We don’t yet know this machine’s capacity level.”

Sani Sport President Steve Silver discusses his company's experience testing the effectiveness of its technology against viruses and bacteria.

The idea to test the Crunch’s machines originated from someone who doesn’t spend much time in an emergency room.

“It came from one of our really smart lawyers who’s a huge hockey fan,”  Corona recalled. “He said to me, ‘Hey Bob, do you realize that there’s a machine that can actually decontaminate hockey equipment? And if it can do that, maybe there’s potential it could decontaminate some of our protective equipment.’”

From there, Corona reached out to Crunch owner Howard Dolgon. Crunch equipment manager Colten Wilson moved quickly with his staff to get the equipment to the hospitals.

Sani Sport president Steve Silver said interest in his company’s technology has spiked, as he’s noticed an uptick in calls from local law enforcement organizations in the United States and Canada.

“We’re thrilled that people are putting our technology to good use through an incredibly difficult time,” Silver said.

Syracuse Crunch delivered two Sani Sport machines to Upstate Hospitals to help clean face shields.
Syracuse Crunch equipment staff helped Upstate Medical University staff load Sani Sport machines into a transport truck.

As many NHL and AHL equipment staffs have this technology in their home arenas, Crunch chief operating officer Jim Sarosy said his team’s focus shifted to sharing learnings from its experience and spreading the word to other clubs through AHL Board of Governors meetings and other communications.

“Like everyone, I wish we could do more,” Sarosy said. “For us to be even in Dr. Corona’s thought process was so rewarding, and finding out that the machines worked was a big boost.”

Sarosy said the Crunch has fielded calls from firefighters and other teams like the Rochester Americans asking about how they can repurpose the machines they already have. 

“We’re still in the very early stages of this and remain in communication with all of the Rochester-area hospitals on the possibility of doing something similar here,” Americans public and media relations senior director Warren Kosel said.


Editor's Note:

Ian Toner was an intern for the Syracuse Crunch until the coronavirus pandemic suspended AHL regular season play in March.