North Shore-LIJ plans biological containement unit to prepare for Ebola

By Bill Parry

The North Shore-LIJ health System announced it will pursue the development of a biological containment unit to further improve its preparedness and response to infectious disease outbreaks. The announcement came just hours before the news broke that Dr. Craig Spencer was diagnosed with Ebola at Bellevue Hospital.

“In light of the public’s anxiety about Ebola, it’s clear we need to develop a more-permanent solution to meeting public health needs in the event of a major infectious disease outbreak in the future,” President and CEO Michael Dowling said. The health system has yet to decide on the location of this multimillion dollar facility, which would likely take 18 months or longer to build.

“The global risk of Ebola is not going to disappear any time soon and the threat of other contagious viruses – such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, the H1N1 virus and Methicillin-Resistant Stphylococcus Aureus will always be with us,” Dowling said.

North Shore-LIJ will model the unit after the Nebraska Medicine Biocontainment Patient Care Unit and one at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which have played a vital role in caring for Ebola patients in recent weeks.

“As underscored last week by Gov. Cuomo’s designation of North Shore-LIJ as a regional resource during the Ebola emergency, we have a responsibility to prepare and protect the communities we serve,” Dowling said.

North Shore-LIJ’s clinical and administrative leadership has put together a robust plan to make certain that any suspected Ebola cases are handled safely, without contaminating health system employees, facilities or other patients. All North Shore-LIJ facilities have established isolation areas in the event they receive a suspected Ebola patient, and the health system has ambulances ready to transport those individuals to a facility capable of meeting their medical needs.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr‌y@cng‌local.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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