The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has been awarded an approximately $3.25 million, five-year grant from the federal government to work with the University of Minnesota Medical Center (UMMC) to establish UMMC as a regional treatment center for patients with Ebola or other severe, highly infectious diseases.
MDH and UMMC were among nine health departments and their partner hospitals announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to become regional centers. UMMC will serve Region Five, which consists of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. The regional centers will have the ability to accept patients from their region if local facilities are unable to provide sufficient care. Every state will continue to have local hospitals prepared to treat Ebola patients and Minnesota will continue to have four designated treatment centers.
“We’re very excited to have this partnership with our federal partners and the University of Minnesota Medical Center,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger. “It demonstrates our commitment to excellence in health care and public health and our level of preparedness to treat people in our region for Ebola and any other highly infectious diseases.”
UMMC’s regional treatment center designation means that the hospital will be equipped to receive patients within eight hours of notification and have the capacity, including beds and staff, to treat at least two Ebola patients at one time.
Awardees have agreed to care for patients with Ebola or another highly-infectious disease from within their region, another region in the U.S. or those medically evacuated to the U.S. from overseas.
The funding will be used to modify and retrofit UMMC’s containment unit to create capacity for two adult and/or pediatric patients and eventually up to four patients at a time; to modify the ventilation system to expand negative air flow; increase patient care room capacity; to develop a fully functional satellite laboratory on the containment unit; and to provide continued and improved staff training to ensure readiness to receive and treat patients.
“This recognizes the enormous expertise that went into developing UMMC and University of Minnesota Health’s response plan by a team of very dedicated, extremely talented health care professionals,” said Carolyn Wilson, R.N., co-president of University of Minnesota Health. “We are very proud to be in a position to be a regional center for the care of special diseases.”
As part of the grant work plan, UMMC will collaborate closely with the other three Ebola Assessment and Treatment Facilities in Minnesota and from throughout the eight Regional Healthcare Coalitions in the state in the development and execution of periodic drills and exercises. Additionally, UMMC and MDH will work closely with other states that UMMC will now serve in this new role to coordinate patient movement when needed.
Minnesota will receive $2.25 million in the first year of the grant and $250,000 in each of the subsequent four years. MDH will administer the grant, passing on the vast majority of the funds to UMMC for the work.
The three other Minnesota hospitals designated as care facilities for Ebola patients will continue to serve in that role, particularly focused on handling cases of patients within the state presenting with Ebola or other special diseases.