Some Massachusetts medical workers are questioning the masks purchased from China by the New England Patriots, and saying many are the less desired KN95 versions instead of the N95 masks.
The well-intentioned gift by the NFL team is being looked upon askance because some of the masks the team flew in from China do not appear to be the versions hospitals are in need of most, according to the Boston Globe.
The more desired N95 mask is the next step above the less effective KN95 because the N95 often has a filtering or respirator device affixed to the outside of the mask, whereas the KN95 is just a paper barrier.
Still, despite the fact that the KN95 is less effective, the FDA did approve their use for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, or when N95s are not available.
But Maryanne Bombaugh, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, told the Globe that the KN95 masks are not optimal.
“It is not the gold standard. We know the N95 masks. We know how well they work, and what they filter, and the safety profile around them,” Bombaugh said. “We know these [KN95] masks are different.”
A spokesperson for the state Dept. of Health countered that the masks were inspected and approved.
“The masks in this shipment, N95, and KN95, were inspected upon arrival and are authorized by the FDA for health care workers,” Ann Scales, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, told the paper.
Some Massachusetts healthcare outlets, though, won’t use the KN95 masks,
Massachusetts General, for one, has refused to use the lesser mask and has instead recommended the “extended use and reuse” of the hospital’s N95 masks during the crisis.
Erica S. Shenoy, associate chief of the hospital’s infection control unit, did not exclude the use of KN95 masks, though. In a statement to the Globe, Shenoy said, “Introducing them into our hospitals would likely entail assessment of both quality of the product and, as with all respirators, how they fit the end-users.”
Christine Pontus, associate director of health and safety for the Massachusetts Nurses Association, also knocked the KN95 masks saying that they often do not fit a healthcare worker’s face satisfactorily.
Finally, Boston-based Tufts Medical Center reported receiving some of the KN95 masks the Patriots brought to the state, but hospital spokesman Jeremy Lechan says none have yet been used.
“We are assessing the masks, and determining how best to utilize them moving forward,” Lechan said.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.