Keeping Duke Safe during COVID-19
August 1st, 2021

Thank you, OESO!

We are always proud of our team’s work in Duke’s Occupational and Environmental Safety Office, but the efforts put forth by our staff to meet the unprecedented challenges encountered by the COVID-19 pandemic are simply remarkable. We are honored to share some of the ways our staff have made a difference in response to the pandemic. These outstanding contributions demonstrate exceptional creativity, commitment, expertise and teamwork, and undoubtedly influenced Duke’s success in ensuring the health and safety of our faculty, staff, patients, students and visitors.

  • Addressing the challenges related to personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, which was nationally one of the most significant risks in meeting COVID-19 head-on, the PPE Availability and Safety Assurance Team received a FDA Emergency Use Authorization for the reuse of decontaminated filtering facepiece respirators. This allowed the Duke University Health System (DUHS) to maintain an adequate inventory of N-95 respirator masks at their three hospitals and largely contributed to staff acceptance of reusing decontaminated masks.
  • Consulting with the ADA office on selecting proper facemasks for hearing impaired personnel.
  • Collaborating with the Innovation Co-Lab and Engineering and Operations (E&O) in order to develop a face shield that would be compatible with their unique line of work, as well as providing advice to E&O on appropriate aprons and gowns.
  • Supporting Procurement and Supply Chain Management purchasing decision-making by testing, approving, and disqualifying alternative suppliers and products when inventories by trusted vendors were no longer stable. These efforts were integral into assuring that staff had the appropriate level of PPE to be safe in their work environment.
  • Providing guidance to Duke University and the DUHS on facemask options and assisting with the development of the policies, procedures, and educational opportunities for the Infection Prevention Bundle which includes universal masking, social distancing and enhanced cleaning.
  • Ergonomic contributions to patient proning has helped decrease the number of providers in COVID-19+ rooms, resulting in a decrease in PPE utilization.
  • Obtaining multiple rounds of 60-day regulatory relief authorizations for radioactive materials and accelerator license requirements to overcome particular operational difficulties for research and clinical activities.
  • Helping Duke Radiology with the set-up of temporary radiography triage tents at Duke University Hospital and Duke Regional Hospital in preparation for significant patient overflow, and collaborating with North Carolina State regulators so that mobile x-ray equipment could be used as stationary units at these sites. Additionally, performing field surveys and providing recommendations to Radiology to ensure the safety of staff, patients, and members of the public.
  • Transitioning over ten radiological license and registration inspections to remote and partially remote formats.
  • Conducting laboratory audits and consultations to ensure COVID-19 research is performed safely, and converting hundreds of laboratory audits to a remote format wherever possible.
  • Creating an approval matrix for COVID-19 research projects to expand Duke grant support and visibility.
  • Assisting the COVID-19 Command Center employee questions and concerns.
  • Ongoing support for Life Safety requirements across campus, particularly with the temporary activation and partial occupancy of beds in the new Duke Central Tower.
  • Continuous support for clinical laboratory waste management and pharmaceutical waste management, in addition to the efforts involved with chemical waste management and changing dynamics in the research laboratory environment.
  • Aiding the safe reopening and return-to-work for the research and academic environments after the campus closure.

We are incredibly grateful to all of our staff for their tireless work to keep us safe in the face of adversity. Thank you!