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Oklahoma hospital debuts new unit to prevent spread of infectious diseases, fight Ebola threat

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The infectious disease unit is designed to isolate and care for patients who test positive for dangerous infectious diseases.

"The first thing they wanted to do was create a safe environment for patients in the unit, but also for patients in hospitals across the state," said OU Medical Systems CEO Chuck Spicer.

Spicer says the Ebola scare at a hospital last year in Dallas helped teach OU Medical Center how to prepare for handling infectious diseases.

"Six months ago, many of us didn't know how to spell Ebola, much less prepare for it. It came very quickly," Spicer said.

The new unit features two patients rooms, a lab, storage for protective gear and more.

The goal is make it entirely self-contained, eliminating potential exposure to other patients.

While no patients are currently being treated for Ebola in the United States and no confirmed cases have ever been reported in Oklahoma, state medical experts say preparation is the key to safety.

"I don't know what the next challenge for infectious disease will be, but I do know we're better prepared today," said Oklahoma State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Kline.

"Just because it's been a few months doesn't mean the risk has gone away, it means being prepared must continue," said Spicer.

The unit will handle more than just Ebola.

It will also have the ability to deal with other infectious diseases.

Right now, the state health department is monitoring four people for Ebola.

However, all are considered very low  risk and no one has tested positive for the disease.

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