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UNMC and Nebraska Medicine Designated to Co-Lead the National Ebola Training and Education Center

John Lowe, PhD

Public Health Practice- In July 2015 the University of Nebraska Medical Center, New York Bellevue Hospital, and Emory University in Atlanta were designated as National Ebola Training and Education Centers through a $12 million U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant. UNMC and Nebraska Medicine will receive $5.1 million over a five year period to develop best practices for health care workers and hospitals responsible for handling and treating patients with Ebola and other highly infectious diseases.

In the last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stood up a national framework of hospitals capable of providing care with high-level patient isolation. This unprecedented expansion of U.S. patient isolation capacity created the need for a national center for training and education to assist hospitals in training healthcare workers for these environments. Key areas of education include selection and use of personal protective equipment (PPE), patient transport, clinical laboratory testing, environmental infection control, and strategies for selecting and training staff. The National Ebola Training and Education Center will consist of faculty from the three facilities who successfully treated patients with Ebola virus disease in 2014. Core functions of the National Training Center will be to conduct on-site readiness assessments of hospitals, provide training and education to healthcare workers, and to provide rapid technical assistance to hospitals actively treating or preparing to treat highly infectious patients.

Dr. Phil Smith, serving as the Principle Investigator on the grant, noted that the UNMC biocontainment team can now shift their focus from patient treatment to sharing with other facilities the many lessons learned while combating this disease. Along with Dr. Smith, Drs. Ted Cieslak and John Lowe from UNMC College of Public Health have key management roles in the new Training and Education Center. As the lead for the Readiness Assessment Team, Dr. Cieslak will conduct site visits for U.S. hospitals to advise and evaluate hospital readiness to accept highly infectious patients.   Dr. Lowe will expand his role as Director of Research for the UNMC Biocontainment Unit as he assumes the role of Director of Metrics and Readiness Assessments for the grant. Dr. Lowe anticipates the National Training Center to conduct over 100 onsite assessment and training sessions across the U.S. in the first 12 months. The sessions will begin in October 2015. Over the five year funding cycle, approximately 25 National Training Center faculty will ensure that U.S. health care workers and hospitals are prepared and ready for the next infectious disease outbreak.

This article was written by Ellen Duysen, MPH, Coordinator, Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH)

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