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Health & Science

Texas Children’s Will Build Nation’s First Pediatric Biocontainment Unit

The eight-bed unit at Katy hospital will be able to handle everything from pandemic flu to Ebola.


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Texas Childrens West CampusTexas Children’s Hospital, West Campus. Photo courtesy of TCH

Texas Children’s does have some isolation rooms for children, but the new unit will be built with the latest technology including adjoining rooms for donning and doffing protective gowns.

“There are isolation rooms and then there are isolation rooms,” said Dr. Mark W. Kline, the hospital’s physician-in-chief. “What we’re talking about here is a magnitude of protection and safety that is really not available in our hospital or any other pediatric hospital currently.”

The eight-bed unit will be added on to the hospital in Katy.

Kline said Ebola’s appearance in Texas helped spur the decision, but it will probably be most useful for other illnesses such as influenza and enterovirus D68, which sickened children this past summer.

“The world is much smaller than it ever was before because of air travel, and any disease that is occurring today in Africa or Asia or anywhere else in the world can be in Houston tomorrow or the next day. Ebola is the latest but it won’t be the last,” Kline said.

Kline said only four adult hospitals in the U.S. have the same arsenal of technology, such as separate ventilation, special air filters and its own on-site laboratory.  

This will be the first bio-containment unit for children, and Kline said that as a consequence the architects must assume that parents will be in the room a lot.

“For children of a certain age they need their parents, they need the reassurance of their parents, they need their moms and their dads to be able to see them and hold them and so forth and so that will be definitely a consideration in the design of the unit.”

The unit is estimated to cost $16 million and take about eight months to construct.



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