The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named the University of Arizona Health Network one of 55 Ebola Treatment Centers in the United States. The Maricopa Integrated Health System in Phoenix also was named.
“It’s a great honor to be selected and it comes with a lot of hard work by our Highly Infectious Disease Response Planning Team,” said Andy Theodorou, MD, UAHN chief medical officer and a professor in the University of Arizona Department of Pediatrics. “This CDC designation represents a great responsibility. We consider it part of our mission as an academic medical center to provide cutting-edge medical care, research and leadership in any public health emergency.”
“We’d like to thank the UA Health Network and MIHS for stepping up to ensure appropriate treatment is available to Arizonans when faced with any infectious disease,” said Cara Christ, MD, chief medical officer, Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). “Their ability to implement higher infection control practices and excellent patient care demonstrates their commitment to the health and wellness of all Arizonans.”
In December, UAHN was named one of two Infectious Disease Centers of Excellence by ADHS, making it Southern Arizona’s hospital for the treatment of Ebola and other highly infectious diseases. Since then, UAHN has conducted two Ebola readiness drills, undergone a site visit by CDC specialists and sent staff members for additional training at the CDC in Atlanta and Emory University, where a number of Ebola patients received treatment.
At the Atlanta training, “Our Tucson contingent gleaned invaluable information from the nurses, physicians and administrators responsible for the care of Ebola patients at Emory,” said ICU Medical Director Gordon Carr, MD.
Both of UAHN’s hospitals (UAMC – University Campus and UAMC – South Campus) are prepared to identify and diagnose Ebola. “Both hospitals draw on the expertise of dozens of clinicians and researchers specializing in infections disease medicine and critical care,” said Sean Elliott, MD, UAHN infection prevention director and a member of the Governor’s Council on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response.
Plans are underway at South Campus to convert several isolation rooms into a Southern Arizona Biocontainment Unit (SABU), ready for the treatment of Ebola or any other highly infectious diseases, he added.
“Even though the likelihood of us seeing an Ebola patient is remote, we are working every day to be ready for that possibility, and for any other emerging infectious disease emergency,” Dr. Elliott said. “Our responsibility for the health and safety of our patients, our health-care workers and the public is uppermost in all our minds.”