Medline Industries resumed sterilization operations at its Waukegan, Ill., plant on Friday, following state certification of the company’s $10 million in emission-control upgrades, the company announced.
The Waukegan plant reopening follows the decision this week by officials in Cobb County, Ga., to allow an Atlanta Sterigenics EtO plant to reopen for 21 days to sterilize devices and products needed during the coronavirus outbreak.
Privately owned Medline uses the carcinogenic gas ethylene oxide (EtO) to sterilize its own and other companies’ medical devices at the plant. Medline voluntarily halted sterilization at the Waukegan plant in January to perform the upgrades in order to comply with a state EtO emission-control law that went into effect in 2019.
In addition to manufacturing and sterilizing 16,000 surgical packs per day, the plant will immediately begin sterilizing personal protective equipment such as gowns and drapes, plus syringes, tubing and oxygenators needed to care for coronavirus patients in Illinois, the company said.
“The investment in Waukegan is part of our dedication to the health and safety of Medline employees
and our neighbors,” added Medline spokesperson Jesse Greenberg in a news release. “Illinois is leading the nation with the most stringent ethylene oxide emission standards in the country. At this critical time for the national public health, we are gratified that we can help supply sterile medical equipment to Illinois healthcare professionals working on the frontlines and to clinicians battling COVID-19 across America.”
Tests of the new emission-control equipment showed 99.99% capture of all EtO used at the facility, according to Medline. A March 23 letter from testing company Montrose Air Quality Services to Medline confirmed the test results.
“We’re really proud of our employees who are working hard each day to ensure our state and our
country have the medical supplies needed to confront this crisis,” Greenberg said. “The upgrades
at our Waukegan plant demonstrate Medline can meet the highest environmental standards while
rising to the challenges we’re collectively facing in healthcare right now.”