88ºF

Look inside the Katy infectious disease unit where local coronavirus patients will be treated

HOUSTON – It’s a medical unit originally built years ago to deal with the deadly Ebola crisis in 2014.

But now, the Highly Infectious Disease Unit at Houston Methodist Continuing Care Hospital in Katy will be used to treat coronavirus patients.

Inside this state-of-the-art, isolation unit, huge air pumping machines are used to constantly pump virus-contaminated-air out of each room and away from the hospital and other patients and staff.

“What we’ve done is, we’ve added a negative pressure machine in each room which basically sucks the air out of the room and ventilates it outside," said Gary Kempf, Vice President and Administrator at Houston Methodist Continuing Care Hospital. “The idea is to keep all the germs and the air from getting inside the rest of the hospital.”

Loaded with equipment designed to specifically treat patients suffering from the coronavirus, this special, isolation unit is currently equipped with 20 beds.

It will have five doctors, all specialists in the field of pulmonary critical care. There will also be 200 nurses and respiratory therapists on staff.

Methodist is now working to open a second unit within the same hospital.

The second unit will have 22 beds, which would give Methodist a total of 42 isolation rooms at this hospital alone.

These two units will not be ready to open for a couple of weeks at the earliest, officials tell KPRC 2, but Methodist is already treating coronavirus patients in isolation rooms at other hospitals within their system.

How many coronavirus patients are they treating right now?

“The last time I checked, it was 12, with most of them being treated in the Medical Center. But there are some at other hospitals across our system”, Kempf said.

In all, Houston Methodist says it is currently treating 16 coronavirus patients — 12 presumptive positive patients and four confirmed coronavirus patients.

Houston Methodist is also working in partnership with city and county officials to open three different mobile-testing centers for coronavirus patients.

These mobile testing sites will be set up in the parking lots at Houston Methodist Continuing Care Hospital, at the Methodist facility in Baytown and at Methodist’s Josie Roberts Administration Building on Greenbriar.