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For Immediate Release
September 4, 2014

Contact Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-310-3710
leah.bucco-white@nebraska.gov
Kathie Osterman, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-326-4277
kathie.osterman@nebraska.gov
 

Statement from Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health on DHHS/Nebraska Medical Center Opening
Nebraska Biocontainment Unit to Care for Ebola Patient

Lincoln — The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services along with the Nebraska Medical Center agreed to open the Nebraska Biocontainment Patient Care Unit to provide treatment to a U.S. physician with Ebola. The physician contracted the virus while working in West Africa.
  
Dr. Joseph Acierno, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services offers this statement:

“The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has presented us with an unusual situation in Nebraska. Our biocontainment unit was built with the purpose of providing specialized care to people with a potentially deadly and infectious disease. Now we know of someone with Ebola who needs our help.
 
“DHHS and the Nebraska Medical Center have been partners in preparedness for more than 10 years. Building the unit was a joint effort and so is the decision to open it. It's a decision that requires careful consideration on both sides because one of us can't move forward without the other.
 
“While Ebola patients can be safely cared for at any hospital committed to practicing well-understood infection control guidelines, the highly specialized engineering and architectural features of this unit afford the best possible patient care environment and health care worker safety.
 
“Ebola is not new to us but having a third Ebola patient on U.S. soil is. We understand if some people have concerns. I want Nebraskans to know that we have highly trained professionals ready to provide quality medical care in a safe, self-contained environment. This situation is of minimal risk to the Omaha area and the rest of Nebraska.
 
“We have the facility. We have the expertise and training. And we have a person who needs help.  We believe we can safely open our doors and provide the best possible care while protecting the public.”

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A photo of Dr. Acierno is available.