COURTESY OF GRITMAN MEDICAL CENTER
Engineers at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories created a product that can monitor and log the temperature of storage spaces needed to store COVID-19 vaccines.
The SEL-2411TM Temperature Monitor Digital Data Logger is a modified version of something SEL already has and uses for other equipment, SEL President Ed Schweitzer said.
The device records the temperature of the vaccines’ storage spaces every 30 minutes and sends a signal if it changes, according to the SEL website. It can log and monitor up to eight storage spaces simultaneously. The thermometer can also tolerate temperatures from -200 to 200 degrees Celsius.
Ultra-cold freezers maintain the temperature at -80 degrees Celsius, which is the temperature needed to store the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
Schweitzer said the product was created when an official at Gritman Medical Center in Moscow searched for equipment to monitor the temperature of their cryogenic refrigerator, which is where they store Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines.
Kane Francetich, Gritman Medical Center chief information officer, said they needed to make sure they were able to monitor the temperature of their storage spaces before they could get the vaccines. Their regular supplier for equipment was back-ordered, so they called SEL instead.
Gritman Medical Center received the device Dec. 10, Schweitzer said.
The hospital would not have been able to administer vaccines if they did not have the device they needed, Francetich said.
“It’s recording the data, and it’s alarming if it’s high or low, which it hasn’t been,” Francetich said. “It’s been working fantastic.”
The medical center received 350 doses, and distributed its first round of vaccines to first responders and medical personnel Dec. 18, according to Gritman Medical Center’s website. Over time, it will begin administering vaccines to groups recommended by public health officials and the state.