In response to several national disease outbreaks, the Alabama Department of Public Health launched a serious infectious disease network. One of the hospitals included in the network is UAB Hospital.
If a national outbreak occurs, the network will help identify and appropriately route patients for treatment. Hospitals are critical to this process. The three hospitals serving Alabama are Huntsville Hospital, UAB Hospital, and the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile.
“Handling these diseases that are new to our health system is a complex process that involves many key players,” said Mary McIntyre, M.D., chief medical officer, Alabama Department of Public Health.
“One of the more critical components is the identification and testing of individuals who may be carriers of the disease. For that, we have partnered with these three hospitals to serve as assessment centers in an effort to best focus our resources.”
According to McIntyre, if a suspected highly infectious disease occurs, patients meeting certain criteria are transferred to one of the three assessment centers for further testing.
If the infection is confirmed, then the patient is transferred to a regional treatment center. Emory Medical Center, in Atlanta, is the closest to Alabama.
“The state plan was developed based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and each hospital worked within the guidelines to develop comprehensive plans to effectively diagnose the individuals, while at the same time protecting staff and other patients,” McIntyre said.
“Typically, an assessment hospital would keep the patient only a short while before identifying the infection and transferring the patient to the treatment center if he or she tests positive.”
“UAB Medicine is committed to constantly looking for any opportunity to advance our mission and enhance the services we provide our patients in Birmingham, around the state and beyond,” said UAB Medicine Senior Vice President of Inpatient Services Anthony Patterson.
“A broad UAB team, including our experts in emergency medicine and infectious diseases, is excited to be recognized by ADPH as a facility that is prepared to safely and effectively serve in this important role for Alabama.”