IDAHO FALLS — Reyco Systems Incorporated is known for building equipment for the food industry, and now, they’re donating pieces of equipment to eastern Idaho hospitals to fight COVID-19.
The Caldwell based company creates all kinds of food processing equipment, but Sales and Marketing Manager Brian Scott said they mostly do potato processing equipment for the french fry plants. The company builds “hoods” — which are large racks — and “wands,” consisting of ultraviolet light bulbs. The ultraviolet light sanitizes raw materials.
“You’re probably familiar with UV-A and UV-B. Those are the lights you see in a tanning bed,” Scott said. “UV-C is a different wavelength. It’s a 254 nanometer wavelength, is what it’s targeted at, which is a germicidal wavelength, it actually disrupts and kills bacteria, viruses, mold, yeast and basically all kinds of microbial particles.”
Scott said they buy their UV lightbulbs from Steril-Aire, a company in California that specializes in the development of high-performance UV-C solutions for air and surface decontamination.
Steril-Aire has experience with using UV-C to kill previous viruses such as SARS and Ebola, he explained.
“It was kind of natural when the coronavirus came out for us to say, ‘Hey, wait a minute. This can be helpful as far as decontaminating the PP (personal protective) equipment for the first responders, as far as taking care of their N95 masks and so forth.'”
One of the company’s employees was a former neighbor to Gov. Brad Little, Scott said. He reached out to Little and asked if the technology could be of service. Little put them in touch with his COVID-19 task force. Through that group and the Idaho Hospital Association, they’ve been donating the equipment.
“You plug it into a regular wall outlet, then you simply just set it on a table and you slide your mask or whatever it is you want to decontaminate underneath the light for about 30 seconds on each side,” Scott explained. “It kills about 99.9% of potential virus that might be living on that mask.”
Mountain View Hospital Spokeswoman Natalie Podgorski confirmed that a UV-C wand was donated to both Mountain View and Idaho Falls Community Hospital.
“We are so grateful to the Idaho Hospital Association for connecting us with Reyco Systems and making this donation possible,” Podgorski said in an emailed statement to EastIdahoNews.com. “The UV-C wands give us another tool to help keep our patients, healthcare workers and the community safe during this pandemic.”
Podgorski said at this time they are not using the UV-C wands to sanitize face masks.
“Currently, both hospitals are using the UV-C wands to clean objects our team members and patients are touching frequently, including cell phone, tablets, keyboards, pens and stethoscopes,” Podgorski told EastIdahoNews.com. “We are also using the UV-C wands as a second step to clean rooms where we treated a COVID-19 patient or a patient we suspect may have the virus. In these cases, our team follows our standard sanitation protocols and then goes back over the room with the UV-C wand to offer another level of cleaning and protection.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, Reyco Systems had donated two hoods to the Boise Veterans Administration and St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center. Along with Mountain View and Idaho Falls Community Hospital, wands have also been sent to facilities including Lost Rivers Medical Center in Arco, Cascade Medical Center in Cascade, North Canyon Medical Center in Gooding and Cottonwood Creek in Meridian.
Six more wands are going out this week, Scott said.
“We decided to directly reach out to some of our members first, in close proximity to where they were being developed,” President and CEO of the Idaho Hospital Association Brian Whitlock said. “So we distributed some of those here in the Boise Valley. Then we expanded the invitation beyond just the Treasure Valley here in the Boise area. The uptake has been very good.”
Scott said they will start to sell the equipment once everyone that wants one loaned to them, gets one.
It takes about a half a day to make one wand if they have all the parts in stock, according to Scott. He said this isn’t putting the company behind, rather it’s changing their priorities a little bit.
“We want to do what we can to help the folks that are putting their health and their lives on the line for us. We’re all part of the big Idaho community, and they’ve been wonderful for us for our business,” Scott said. “When we get a chance to give back and help folks out in a time of crisis, it’s the least we can do.”