Georgia College donates gowns and UV-C lamps to Navicent Health Baldwin

Georgia College donates gowns and UV-C lamps to Navicent Health Baldwin

T wo 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.

“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. 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.
– Dr. Sheri Noviella, dean of the College of Health Sciences

Georgia College also recently redistributed other medical supplies for hospitals, such as ventilators, googles, gloves, sanitizer, masks and shoe coverings.

Dr. Sheri Noviello talks about helping out in time of crisis.
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.

Isolation gowns donated by Public Safety.
Isolation gowns donated by Public Safety.
“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.”

UV-C lamps donated to Navicent Health Baldwin by Georgia College.
UV-C lamps donated to Navicent Health Baldwin by Georgia College.
Noviello also realized heat from UV-C lamps could allow medical personnel to disinfect and safely reuse the gowns. She reached out to Eric Tenbus, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and he put her in touch with Dr. Chavonda Mills, chair of Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy. That department had three UV-C lamps, but 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.

Packaged and ready to go.
Packaged and ready to go.
The UV-C lamps and gowns were delivered 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 donations were picked up April 9 by Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Wayne Johnson and delivered to Navicent.

The opportunity to be of service to healthcare employees as they work tirelessly to combat the COVID-19 pandemic is truly an honor. We instill in our students the importance of civic responsibility, service-oriented leadership and volunteerism—and we are able to model these behaviors by making this small donation.
– Dr. Chavonda Mills, chair of Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy
“The opportunity to be of service to healthcare employees as they work tirelessly to combat the COVID-19 pandemic is truly an honor,” Mills said. “We instill in our students the importance of civic responsibility, service-oriented leadership and volunteerism—and we are able to model these behaviors by making this small donation.”

“Healthcare workers are risking their lives to save others,” she said. “Donating our UV-C lamps is our small way of saying thank you, and we hope that our donation will make their jobs easier and safer.”

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, according to International Ultraviolet Association (IUVA), which was quoted in a recent CVT News article.

“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.”

Donations being delivered.
Donations being delivered.
UV radiation, like UV-B, reaches the Earth and 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 UV-C 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.

As a nurse educator, Noviello said it’s difficult to be in the shadows, unable to help. She has great respect for every healthcare worker—from individuals who clean floors and pick up trash to lab technicians, nurses and physicians.

Checking in to see if there’s anything I can do has given me a bit of comfort. 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.
– Dr. Sheri Noviello

“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.”