About the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit
Commissioned in 2005 by the United States Centers for Disease Control, the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit (NBU) provides the first line of treatment for people affected by bio-terrorism or highly hazardous communicable diseases. The NBU is one of only a few biocontainment units in the United States and is the largest, with up to a 10-bed capacity depending upon the specific infection.
A collaborative project involving Nebraska Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the unit is equipped to safely care for anyone exposed to a highly contagious and dangerous disease. 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 Nebraska Biocontainment Unit was one of three units selected to care for United States citizens medically evacuated from Africa with the Ebola virus. The unit is a secured area with highly trained staff who safely provide all levels of care to patients infected with highly hazardous communicable diseases.
The staff all receive specialized training and participate in numerous drills throughout the year. The entire unit is specially isolated from the rest of the hospital, using its own ventilation system and security access.
Headed by Medical Director Angela Hewlett, MD, an infectious diseases specialist, NBU personnel consists of an extraordinary staff of select physicians, registered nurses, respiratory therapists and patient care technicians specially trained in high level isolation and bio-preparedness. Most work full-time in other areas of Nebraska Medicine but remain on-call to report promptly for duty when the unit is activated. Highly contagious and deadly infectious conditions the unit can handle include: SARS, MERS, smallpox, plague, Ebola virus and other viral hemorrhagic fevers, monkeypox and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
Some of the unit's unique features include high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration system to ensure that micro-organisms do not spread beyond the patient rooms. There is a secured access main entrance featuring double doors that are pressure controlled. Staff have a separate, secured access entrance and exit. Dual "pass-through" autoclaves decontaminate waste, linens, and materials leaving the unit. Patient isolation rooms maintain negative air flow with 15 or more air exchanges per hour to assure that hazardous infections are contained. In addition, use of a secure telehealth communication system minimizes the number of staff needing to enter isolation rooms. Use of HEPA-filtered individual isolation units, sometimes called biopods or isopods, are available for safe transport and transfer of an infected patient to the unit. These are just some of the safety measures being taken to keep germs inside the unit and people safe on the outside.
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Nebraska Biocontainment Unit and media contacts:
Nebraska Biocontainment Unit
- 402.559.7037 (office)
- 402.871.8338 (cell)
- Visit the National Ebola Training & Education Center page for additional biocon…
- Center for Preparedness Education
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- CDC- Avian Flu
- CDC- Emergency Preparedness and Response
- Nebraska Public Health Laboratory
- Nebraska Regional Poison Center
- World Health Organization- Avian Flu