UCHealth’s Biocontainment Unit prepared for potential of coronavirus in Colorado

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — The number of coronavirus infections continues to rise around the world.

While there are no cases in Colorado, hospitals are saying they are prepared to handle coronavirus patients, if needed.

FOX31 was granted access to a rarely seen Biocontainment Unit (BCU) at University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora.

The hospital houses one of three BCUs in the state.

The unit sits deep in UCHealth’s campus.

It is the place where patients carrying highly contagious diseases, like the coronavirus, can be treated.

At first, it looks like most hospital rooms, but then a nurse showed us the special precautions needed to enter when a patient is being treated.

Beth Weeks, a nurse and disaster preparedness coordinator, showed FOX31 how she dresses before entering: wearing a protective head cover and a respirator to keep from being infected.

“(The respirator) is blowing air in here and continuing the outflow out. So when I’m in a room with the patient who might have something like the (coronavirus) that is maybe suspended in the air, it’s not pulling in here at all. It’s all going in through the filter and the air is blowing out,” Weeks said.

The room is equipped with a ventilation system that pulls air in and then pushes it outside the building.

“The reason for that is that everybody who is standing outside of this room doesn’t get sick. Whatever we are treating inside the room — such as coronavirus, measles — that type of thing (stays inside),” UCHealth Emergency Manager Clinton Andersen said.

In this particular unit, there are an additional three rooms.

They can also be used to treat Ebola, measles and other airborne illnesses.

“If we didn’t have this mechanism here, anybody standing outside or in the approximate area could potentially get sick with whatever we are treating inside,” Andersen said.

Children’s Hospital Colorado has a similar room for kids.

Denver Health Medical Center has another for adults.

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