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Oklahoma City hospital creating special unit to treat infectious disease patients

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OKLAHOMA CITY – If a patient diagnosed with the Ebola virus ever makes it to the Sooner State, health officials are working to make sure employees are prepared.

Dr. Terry Cline, commissioner of Health, announced that a specialized unit is being developed for any confirmed patients with the Ebola virus in Oklahoma.

The unit will be operated out of OU Medical Center in an unused hospital building on the Oklahoma Health Center campus.

The building is separate from facilities treating other patients and there will be no other clinical operations in the building.

It will feature isolation and biohazard areas, along with laboratory space in a negative airflow environment.

While the Ebola virus is not spread through the air, doctors say the negative airflow will allow them to treat patients with other infectious diseases in the building.

The unit will be staffed by a specially trained infectious disease response team.

Construction is expected to take three to four weeks.

“While our Oklahoma hospitals have each been preparing for weeks and are capable of treating an Ebola patient, this collaborative effort with OU Medical Center taking the lead will better prepare our state and healthcare system should the need arise,” Dr. Cline said.

“All Oklahoma hospitals remain on alert and are prepared to provide an initial screening of suspected Ebola cases and, if criteria warrant, quickly isolate and provide interim care while testing is completed,” OHA President Craig W. Jones said.” We will continue to work with state health officials on a more long-term approach to providing bio-containment resources needed to treat these and similar patients in the future.”

For more information on Oklahoma’s Ebola preparedness, visit the health department’s website.