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UNMC and Nebraska Medicine join forces to fight infectious diseases

Posted: 6:40 PM, Jan 29, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-29 21:05:52-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — There have been five confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and other cases are still being tested and quarantined.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) is teaming up with Nebraska Medicine to open their brand new facility that will help aid in highly infectious diseases like coronavirus.

The new facility inside the Davis Global Center is designed in three parts.

"Education and training is one, and then quarantine is the second, and then really, this will serve also... we have a nice facility here that'll serve as our emergency operations center,” said Executive Director for Emergency Management/Bio Preparedness of Nebraska Medicine, Shelly Schwedhelm.

The 20 new quarantine rooms will help aid people that need to be looked at and observed for infectious diseases. For example--American citizens that are now heading back to the states after the Wuhan outbreak.

"So quarantine is the care of persons who may have been exposed to a highly hazardous communicable disease that are not yet sick. Basically, it's a glorified hotel room," said UNMC Director of Quarantine Unit, Ted Cieslak.

A glorified hotel room with negative pressure to stop the airborne spread and other emergency services.

If the patient is then diagnosed with a highly infectious disease, they would be sent just across the street to Nebraska Medicine's biocontainment unit that has previously successfully treated Ebola patients.

"In fact, that's one of the reasons the federal government chose to fund this facility here in Omaha... because it is adjacent to our biocontainment unit," said Cieslak.

Now, researchers and medical professionals are hopeful this center can be the future of quarantine and treatment for any diseases that may come about.

There are no cases of coronavirus in Nebraska at this time, but if there ever are...

"If our federal, or state or local health partners ask us to respond, we're ready," said Nebraska Biocontainment Unit nurse manager Angie Vasa.