The North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System is planning to build at least one containment unit for patients with Ebola and other infectious diseases, the system announced Thursday. The unit is estimated to cost $15 million, will accommodate eight patients and will take 18 months or more to build. An exact location has not yet been determined.
"In light of the public's anxiety about Ebola, it's clear that we need to develop a more permanent solution to meeting public health needs in the event of a major infectious disease outbreak in the future," said Michael Dowling, the health system's president and chief executive, in a press release announcing the project.
The new unit will be modeled after the Nebraska Medicine Biocontainment Patient Care Unit and the Serious Communicable Disease Unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, both of which have been involved in treating Ebola patients.
The new containment unit will be able to handle other infectious diseases, a spokesman for North Shore-LIJ said. "We deal with all kinds of dangerous infectious diseases," including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the H1N1 virus and Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), he said. "They are very contagious, potentially fatal diseases, where if there was a widespread outbreak we should be better prepared to meet public health needs."