The Biocontainment Unit at The Nebraska Medical Center is equipped to safely care for anyone exposed to a highly contagious and dangerous disease. It is a joint project involving The Nebraska Medical Center, Nebraska Health and Human Services, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Early isolation of an infected patient is essential - buying time for public health officials and providing the chance to either stop an outbreak - or help to contain one. The unit’s location, on the same campus as Nebraska’s Bio-Safety Level-3 laboratory, allows for timely diagnosis and immediate treatment of patients.
The Biocontainment Unit at The Nebraska Medical Center has ten beds and can receive patients from anywhere in the country, and is equipped with many safety features. Examples include special air handling systems to ensure that micro-organisms do not spread beyond the patient rooms, with high level filtration and ultraviolet light for additional protection. A dunk tank for laboratory specimens and a pass-through autoclave help assure that hazardous infections are contained. Hepa-filtered individual isolation units, are available for safe transport and transfer of an infected patient to the unit.
Headed by Medical Director Dr. Philip Smith, a specialist in infectious diseases, the Biocontainment Unit is staffed with registered nurses, respiratory therapists and patient care technicians who are on-call 24 hours a day. Highly contagious and deadly infectious conditions the unit can handle include: SARS, smallpox, tularemia, plague, Ebola virus and other viral hemorrhagic fevers, monkeypox, vancomycin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (VRSA) and multidrug resistant tuberculosis.
The unit is equipped with special air-handling systems to ensure that germs do not spread beyond the patient rooms. Ultraviolet light, a dunk tank for lab specimens and a sterilizer for laundry are just some of the safety measures being taken to keep germs inside the unit and people safe on the outside.