Glen Cove Hospital was among 35 facilities Tuesday named as "designated Ebola treatment centers" by federal health officials who say it's vital that multiple regions have highly specialized teams ready to treat contagious diseases.
Glen Cove's state-of-the-art biocontainment unit was constructed to address the looming possibility of any emerging or exotic infection, said Dr. Mark Jarrett, chief quality officer for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System.
"We don't see this as a center just for Ebola. There might be a patient with any other highly contagious and dangerous disease. So it was built with more than just Ebola in mind," Jarrett said.
Glen Cove's designation came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also chose several hospitals in New York City as designated sites.
"As long as Ebola is spreading in West Africa, we must prepare for the possibility of additional cases in the United States," CDC director Thomas Frieden said in a statement Tuesday.
"We are implementing and constantly strengthening multiple levels of protection . . . to manage the complex care of an Ebola patient," Frieden said.
The designations were announced on the heels of a study, which appeared in the American Journal of Infection Control on Monday, by specialists at the University of Nebraska's biocontainment unit. Doctors and nurses there have treated several Ebola patients who've been airlifted from the West African Ebola hot zone.
Nebraska infection-control experts found that treating Ebola patients produces about 23 cubic feet -- more than 50 pounds -- of solid waste daily. Most of that waste was personal protective equipment worn by health care workers.
Patients, however, produced about 2.3 gallons of liquid waste daily. That refuse was dumped into a toilet with hospital-grade disinfectant.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has designated Ebola waste as category A hazardous material. Waste in this grouping requires multiple treatment steps.
Jarrett, meanwhile, said North Shore-LIJ infection control experts have been in touch with the biocontainment team leaders in Nebraska.
Teams of health professionals will run Glen Cove's biocontainment unit, which has two beds, Jarrett said.
"Generally a whole team would consist of 20 to 25 nurses and approximately four physicians," Jarrett said. "We have three teams because we have to be prepared for more than one patient."