By Kathy Walsh
DENVER (CBS4) – Denver Health Medical Center (DHMC) is now better equipped to care for patients with Ebola and other highly infectious diseases.
In response to the deadly Ebola epidemic in 2014, the hospital has improved its biocontainment unit and is ready to serve patients in a six-state region.
The nurses now have sophisticated suits, helmets, and face shields to protect them from infection. They are members of what’s called the HITeam (High Risk Infection Team) and are prepared to treat patients with Ebola, measles, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) or any other highly-infectious disease.
“Everything can be done within this room,” said Amber Miller, Manager of Infection at DHMC.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ebola epidemic killed 11,325 people. That prompted action in the U.S. Using a $2.9 million federal grant, DHMC spent six months improving the ventilation system, adding doors to better isolate the area, buying the new safety suits as well as sophisticated mannequins for training. The biocontainment unit now has its own lab and waste management system.
“So everything within this small unit will all be contained, rendered non-infectious, before it leaves this small area,” said Miller.
“There’s nothing else like it in this region,” said Dr. Connie Price, Chief Medical Officer at DHMC.
Price explained the biocontainment unit is one of 10 Regional Ebola and Special Pathogens Treatment Centers (RESPTC) in the country and will serve Colorado, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.