Ebola treatment unit for medical workers to open in Liberia

Nov. 7, 2014

The Monrovia Medical Unit, an Ebola treatment unit constructed specifically for the treatment of medical workers who became infected while caring for Ebola patients in Africa, is scheduled to open Saturday. The facility is located about 30 miles outside Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city.

“The Monrovia Medical Unit, otherwise known as an MMU, is different than an Ebola treatment unit —ETU — because our main purpose is to give hope to doctors and nurses as we will be treating any suspected or infected cases that happen around West Africa,” says Lt. Shane Deckert, the MMU facility engineer, with the U.S. Public Health Service.

The 25-bed facility was constructed from the ground up by a team of Navy Seabees, soldiers, and airmen from Joint Forces Command-United Assistance, and will be operated by personnel from the U.S. Public Health Service. The MMU compound is separated into two parts. One side is the low-risk zone for medical workers and support staff; the other side is the high-risk zone for suspected and infected patients. The structure consists of 12 tents, four that make up an administrative area for staff members and eight that make up three wards for patients and other necessary services, says Deckert.

Along with the laboratory, there is a pharmacy, a behavioral health section, and a patient reception area on the grounds. Restrooms and showers are located behind the wards. The entire fenced-in compound is nearly self-contained, needing only resupply of water, fuel, and food, says Deckert. Fuel supplies two large generators that power the electricity and one small generator that powers the perimeter lighting. The water is for cleaning and decontaminating personnel and equipment.

The complex is built on a slope so that any infectious materials or fluids will drain away from the safe zone in case of heavy rainfall. There's also an incinerator on site to dispose of used personal protective equipment so that no trace of the virus leaves the compound. Read the full press release.

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