Oklahoma Health Officials Unveil Infectious Disease Unit


Wednesday, January 21st 2015, 6:32 pm
By: News 9


The Oklahoma State Department of Health is currently monitoring four people who are at low-risk for Ebola.

Now, Oklahoma has a bio-containment care unit for confirmed Ebola cases and other infectious diseases. It was constructed in record time on the campus of OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City.

The specialized infectious disease unit is ready to be activated if the state ever needed it.

OU Med and the state health department turned a decommissioned building into the specialized unit after the Ebola scare in Dallas.

“We did not know when, where, who, how Ebola could strike, so the preparedness we had to endure and go through was unbelievable and rigorous,” said OU Med CEO and President Chuck Spicer.

The 4,000-square-foot space is totally isolated from other floors and buildings with two patient rooms, a bio-hazard room and a lab.

The state has monitored 17 people for Ebola so far, which is why health leaders wanted a designated isolation and treatment facility.

“What is the likelihood this would actually happen in Oklahoma, would we have a case of Ebola,” asked Dr. Terry Cline, Commissioner of Health for the Oklahoma State Department of Health. “A year ago I would say that likelihood would be almost zero, today I don't say that,” he explained.

The medical team for the bio-containment unit is made up of volunteers who work elsewhere in the OU Med system.

The goal is to have the unit completely prepared for a patient within an hour of being notified. The latest drill clocked the team at 48 minutes.

The medical team has done five drills so far, and has another scheduled next week. They practice different scenarios they could encounter if ever dealing with an Ebola patient.

The unit is in place and teams are ready. The training is ongoing.

“Training that will continue until it's needed and hopefully never needed,” Spicer added.

Another new development, the state department of health can now test for Ebola rather than sending samples off to the CDC.

The state department can have results back in a matter of hours.