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They are: the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md.;
the medical center at the University of Nebraska;
the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta; and
St. Patrick Hospital near the Rocky Mountain Labs in Missoula, Mont.
The Nebraska biocontainment unit opened in 2005, two years after Canada and other nations experienced an outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. Smith said the unit, which includes 10 beds in five patient rooms, cost about $1 million to build using part of Nebraska’s federal bioterrorism funding with support from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and its hospital partner, the med center.
There are no immediate plans to transfer any Ebola patients to the med center, said Dr. Philip Smith, medical director of the Nebraska Biocontainment Patient Care Unit on the seventh floor of the Nebraska Medical Center. The State Department also contacted at least three other facilities.
Smith and Dr. Angela Hew Lett, associate medical director of the Nebraska biocontainment unit, said Ebola is a 9 or 10 on a scale of 10 when it comes to the level of concern caused by the virus. The disease causes fever, aches, nausea, vomiting and can lead to bleeding disorders and shock.
The unit, Hewlett said, is staffed by 30 physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and technicians who volunteered for the work and are willing to carry pagers, participate in drills and receive ongoing education. They also have other jobs at the med center.
Smith said the State Department official seemed impressed but didn’t speak of any plans to send a patient to the unit. More likely, Smith said, it might receive a sickened traveler visiting the region.