The U.S. Hospitals That Can Handle Ebola

By Edward K. Chapnick

The United States has four biocontainment units, which are units within bigger facilities, designed to treat the most contagious and virulent illnesses that afflict humans, including Ebola. Their staffs are highly trained and practiced on very specific infection prevention protocols.

They’re funded by the government and meant to keep one infection from becoming an epidemic, so as Ebola patients are evacuated to or discovered in the United States, they can end up in one of these four locations:

  • Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia

  • National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland

  • University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska

  • St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Montana

These highly specialized units have been designed with many different infection prevention and control features, among them:

  • Negative airflow: Clean, filtered air comes in without letting the contaminated air out.

  • Windows and intercoms: Nurses can interact with patients without having to don all of their protective equipment.

  • Waste protocols: At Emory, disposable goods are first pressure-steamed, and then incinerated. Body fluids (such as urine) are treated for at least five minutes with bleach or detergent before being flushed.

  • Biopods: Also called isopods, they are giant containment umbrellas or bubbles that fit tightly over gurneys so that staff can take someone from outside into the isolation ward safely.