UCSF Receives National Designation as Ebola Treatment Center

By Elizabeth Fernandez

This is one of two isolation units equipped to receive a patient infected with Ebola at UCSF's Mount Zion hospital. To date, no patients infected with Ebola have been reported in San Francisco or California.

UC San Francisco has been designated as an Ebola treatment center, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced on Tuesday.

UCSF is the only medical center in San Francisco to earn the designation.

Altogether, 35 hospitals nationally were identified by U.S. officials as Ebola treatment centers, based on their ability to provide the necessary staff, training, equipment and other resources to treat patients with the unique care requirements of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). More hospitals are expected to be designated as Ebola treatment facilities in coming weeks. 

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In California, the other hospitals identified as Ebola treatment centers are UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento; Kaiser Oakland Medical Center in Oakland; and Kaiser South Sacramento Medical Center in Sacramento. 

“As a public institution, we think it is a very important service we can provide,” said UCSF associate chief medical officer Adrienne Green, MD.

The hospitals were selected by state health officials and assessed on-site by infection control and safety teams from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC team visited UCSF’s Emergency Department on the Parnassus campus and toured the Ebola isolation unit at Mount Zion hospital on Nov. 19. They discussed staffing, training in the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and laboratory and waste management procedures.

Among other recent developments in Ebola preparedness, UCSF has:

  • Revised its guidelines for travelers returning to UCSF after serving in West African countries where Ebola is endemic;
  • Received nearly 2,100 hours of donated vacation leave from 76 individuals from across the campus and medical center;
  • Applied for grants and cooperative agreements to study the epidemiology and control of Ebola in West Africa;
  • Organized the basic science community to respond to calls for basic science research; and
  • Provided training, and have ongoing training, for health care workers in the donning and doffing of PPE and in the specialized workflows required to provide care for any patient with EVD that may be admitted at the medical center.

Preparing for Ebola

UCSF has been preparing since August for the possibility of treating a patient with suspected or confirmed EVD while ensuring the safety of health care workers and other patients. Specially designed and secure isolation rooms have been built at the UCSF Mount Zion campus – the unit can handle two patients with the disease. More than 100 UCSF physicians, nurses, clinical lab scientists, respiratory therapists and health safety workers have volunteered to provide care.    

UCSF Medical Center employees train how to properly don personal protective gear required to treat suspected Ebola patients. Photo by Susan Merrell

All five UC Medical Centers, which specialize in complex care, have been identified by the state as priority hospitals to treat confirmed Ebola cases. 

“We appreciate the efforts of all the people at our University of California medical centers working to ensure that we are prepared to care for patients with Ebola and to maintain the safety of our health care professionals,” said John Stobo, MD, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services.

“UC is proud to partner with the state to help address this potential health crisis. …We are very pleased that two of our medical centers – UC Davis and UC San Francisco – have been designated by the federal government as hospitals with Ebola treatment centers. We expect that our three Southern California medical centers – UC Irvine, UCLA and UC San Diego – will receive similar designations after their CDC visits, which are scheduled for this week.”