RICHARDSON — Located just off Campbell Road, one of Richardson's busiest streets, the Methodist Campus for Continuing Care was the original Methodist Richardson Hospital.
Its intensive care unit has been vacant, making it ideal home for an the Ebola treatment center, state officials said Tuesday.
"it's a fully-equipped ICU," said Sam Bagchi, chief quality officer at Methodist Health Systems, "With a dedicated and fully contained lab; radiology capability; a special area for donning and doffing personal protective equipment; and has been specially designed with input from the CDC and with our colleagues from UTSW and Parkland."
The unit will be staffed by more than 50 caregivers who are trained in biohazard response and infectious diseases.
"Which includes doctors from UT Southwestern; nurses from Parkland; support staff from Parkland, including lab techs; radiology techs; respiratory therapists; pharmacists; environmental services personnel. All that training is completed," said Dr. Alex Eastman, a physician at Parkland's trauma unit.
Eastman is also the Dallas Police Department's top SWAT doc, and he will lead the local Ebola strike team.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, on the front lines of the Ebola crisis, will not be part of the unit. Why?
"To give them relief is a very important and appropriate decision to have been made," said Gov. Rick Perry.
"They are tired," added Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, "There's a wealth of emotions going on. and it would be inhumane and not in their best interests — nor in anyone else's best interests — for them to be directed or forced into continuing."
Here is a prepared response from Texas Health Presbyterian:
"As the first U.S. hospital to face the challenge of both diagnosing and treating Ebola patients, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas will continue to share our learnings with health officials at all levels of government, our fellow hospitals, and the broader health care community. A coordinated response is in all our best interests, and we remain active participants in discussions to advance the shared goal of defeating this insidious disease."
The Ebola treatment center will be able to accept up to 10 patients. It will be fully operational within 24 hours, though sources tell News 8 it could take two patients immediately. So far, no one else exposed to Ebola patients in North Texas has shown any signs or symptoms.
Janet St. James follows Gov. Perry's press conference below: