What does an Ebola isolation ward look like?
The seven-bed, 4,000-square-foot biocontainment unit at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., is a state-of-the-art facility built to keep the world’s scariest pathogens from escaping. The four U.S. facilities are all different — NIH’s even has a gym — but they contain many of the same things. This layout is based on the unit at Emory University in Atlanta.
Patient room As few people as possible enter patients’ rooms and only in high-level protective gear.
Anteroom This is a transition area for health-care workers who will enter the patient’s room.
Biosafety hood: Collected specimens are handled here before they go to the lab. The hood filters air and doesn’t let exhaust circulate back into the work area.
Air flow: All rooms in the unit are pressurized so that when a door is opened or closed, air flows in and not out. Pressure is monitored electronically and the status is displayed on panels.
PPE removal zone Areas are marked where workers take off their personal protective equipment. At NIH, equipment is autoclaved to kill pathogens and taken to an incinerator.
Sink The faucet is light-activated so no touch is required.
Shower Shower is designed so that if people get a large splash or expo - sure, they can immediately decontaminate themselves.
Staffing Patient care at NIH is always done by two nurses: One performs the care while the other makes sure it is done properly. Monitor A monitor with a checklist (called a Watson) observes all procedures and can stop anyone at any time if protocol is violated. Medical equipment One of the four rooms at NIH is set up as an intensive-care unit (ICU), with connections for oxygen, suction and all other medical electronics. The other three rooms can be converted to ICU rooms if needed.
Bathroom Waste from the patient’s bathroom is disinfected before it enters the sewer system.
Air handling Air is thoroughly filtered before venting to the outside.
Staff locker room
SOURCE: Emory University Hospital, National Institutes of Health. GRAPHIC: Bonnie Berkowitz and Richard Johnson - The Washington Post.