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The Nurse Wears Prada…

Today’s article was supposed to refer to something completely different, but quite recently, I came across a story that cannot be ignored. A story that really happened. For the safety of some people and their jobs, it will be presented in the form of a short anecdote, and as befits an anecdote, everything will be funny until you realize that you are dealing with a description of real event.

The Nurse Wears Prada…

It all started at the beginning of 2020. We heard information about the impending COVID-19 pandemic from everywhere, the corona virus was approaching to Poland. Two months later, we found out about the first case in the country. In mid-March we already had 70 sick compatriots. The government’s reaction was quick and decisive (I do not want to judge whether it is good) – #lockdown in Poland. What does it mean? Closed borders, restrictions related to the house leaving, police patrolling after 10 p.m, closed cinemas and gyms, home office.

Every day we found out about new problems – unprepared hospitals, no disposable gloves, no masks. The world turned upside down, but as always at such moments, the spirit of solidarity and community awoke in our society.

Social media flooded us with events from the series – “Do your own mask”, “All Poland sews masks”, “100 ways to cover your face”, etc… We were fascinated on these wonderful deeds, we wanted to give something from ourselves…

So what we did?

Determined to help, we pushed the constructors to the limit. Within a week, we had a ready product – the SRW Sterilizer, which is able to decontaminate up to 300 surgical masks in one cycle.

Inquiries started coming from all over the world, but our goal was, above all, to support Poland, Polish hospitals, Polish nurses and Polish doctors. We managed to perform a test in one of the provincial hospitals, which showed that our devices can cope with the fight against virus removal from masks. This news gave us angel wings. We proposed that we would produce 40 sterilizers for provincial hospitals and sell them practically for the production costs. It is worth presenting the numbers here. One sterilizer disinfects 300 masks per hour. Multiplying this by 40 devices and 8 hours of work, we get the result of 96,000 masks recovered within an 8 hour duty cycle. Assuming that one surgical mask costs PLN 1 – we save PLN 96 000 within 8 hours. Remember that each mask can be decontaminated up to 50 times.

The response from the management of the hospitals concerned was amazing – YES, but… the nurses are protesting that they will not wear recycled masks so… thank you for your offer. Why? Because the nurse is also a woman and she comes to work with a makeup. You will ask, what about this? The fact that the masks are left a characteristic makeup residue, which the sterilizer does not remove in the decontamination process.

Can you imagine working with a mask soiled from the inside? Me neither…

We had strong counter-arguments and still nothing, because no one had any interest in it. The hospital sends a request for masks and “gets” them from the goverment for free, and the money allocated to the masks cannot go to any other project. Who will care about saving and managing money when the goverment “gives”? According to people who participated in this debate, it is easier to throw away the masks and hundreds of thousands of PLN than explain to the nurses that for our health, all you need is mascara instead of a complete makeup.


Because I love numbers I would like to mention that we have 16 provinces, the optimal time of the sterilizers work per day is 16 hours, and 40 sterilizers could be purchased for each province.

With optimal efficiency and the assumption that the surgical mask costs PLN 1 we would save about PLN 3 million a day, but there are important and more important cases…

Maciej Lebioda

Maciej Lebioda

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