Texas Children’s announced on December 4 our plan to build an eight-bed special isolation unit at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. This unit will be designed for children with highly contagious infectious diseases, such as pandemic influenza, enterovirus D68, Ebola, and many others. Additionally, we announced the state’s designation of our organization as a pediatric Ebola treatment center.
About the isolation unit
This new isolation unit at Texas Children’s will be similar to the four other biocontainment units in the country. Such units are equipped and staffed to care for patients with contagious infectious diseases.
“We will build a state-of-the-art isolation unit designed and staffed to provide the highest quality care and treatment for infants and children with serious or life-threatening infectious diseases of public health significance, always with the greatest possible margin of safety,” said Texas Children’s Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline. “We believe this will be an indispensable resource to our local community, Texas and the nation.”
This new unit will incorporate all of the latest scientific and technological approaches to biocontainment, including negative air pressure, laminar air flow, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration, separate ventilation, anterooms, biosafety cabinets, a point-of-care laboratory, special security access, autoclaves and incinerators. There will be two levels of protection from airborne particles, as well as a comprehensive waste management plan, among other safety features.
It will be fully equipped to care for any infant or child with a serious communicable disease, with all of the measures available to assure safety of the health care team, other patients and their families. A point-of-care biosafety level 3 laboratory will enable the care team to monitor the progress of patients and perform rapid detection methods to identify unusual pathogens. Housed at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, the unit is anticipated to have capacity for eight patients, all in private rooms.
This specialized unit will be led by Dr. Gordon Schutze, who will serve as medical director, as well as Dr. Judith Campbell and Dr. Amy Arrington, who will be the unit’s associate medical directors. It will be staffed by an elite team of experienced critical care and infectious disease nurses and physicians, all of whom will have successfully completed an intensive advanced certification course and practicum in infection control, hospital epidemiology and management of infectious diseases in the critical care setting. The staff will maintain their certification through participation in ongoing educational activities.
Kline said Texas Children’s is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to design, build, equip and staff the unit, which is expected to be operational within nine months and cost approximately $16 million to build.
“I could not be more impressed with Texas Children’s desire to run towards issues of critical importance to the health and well-being of the children of Texas and our nation,” said Dr. Brett Giroir, director of the Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response and chief executive officer of the Texas A&M Health Science Center.
Caring for potential Ebola patients
Since the summer, Texas Children’s has been implementing a detailed plan to identify, isolate and treat suspected cases of Ebola, if necessary. As a result, following a visit from the CDC, the State of Texas designated Texas Children’s as a pediatric Ebola treatment center.
As part of the hospital’s preparation, specific protocols were developed outlining steps staff would take if and when a patient with Ebola symptoms arrived at a Texas Children’s facility. Additionally, in order to decrease the risk of exposure and provide the complex care required, the hospital identified specific areas and units responsible for caring for any patient with Ebola. The health care workers in those areas have received intense, ongoing training and simulation to help them prepare.
“This unit is part of the hospital’s long-term vision to care for children with the most serious and complex medical conditions,” said Michelle Riley-Brown, president of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. “Our leadership’s decision to build this new isolation unit at West Campus speaks volumes about our staff and employees’ skill, expertise and experience here. Our agility and responsiveness were tested just a few months ago when we had a patient with suspected Ebola under investigation. Our handling of that case demonstrated our competency here at West Campus, and it boosted the entire organization’s confidence in the readiness across the system.”
West Campus staff and employess helped lead the way for the organization to refine our protocols for care, and now Texas Children’s will lead the way for centers across the country. If you have questions about the unit or an interest in being trained to be part of the care team that will staff this unit, please contact your leader for more information.
Return to Ebola Response site.