UNMC biopreparedness program receives visit from key HHS officials

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations | April 06, 2018

Image with caption: UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., with Robert Kadlec, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., with Robert Kadlec, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Robert Kadlec, M.D., assistant secretary for preparedness and response (ASPR), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, visited the medical center with members of his leadership team on March 27 and called biopreparedness programs like the National Ebola Treatment Center and the National Ebola Training and Education Center at UNMC/Nebraska Medicine "a national treasure."

Dr. Kadlec toured campus to learn more about the unique expertise and capabilities in public health emergency preparedness housed at UNMC. While here, the HHS assistant secretary addressed 130 biopreparedness professionals from 25 states who were attending training and education sessions at UNMC as part of the National Ebola Training and Education Center (NETEC). Dr. Kadlec also met with a host of med center researchers, faculty, clinicians, and staff.

See photo album on visit.

"One of the reasons that I came here today was not just to see the new building but also to recognize that what was created here is something that we hope to use as a model in other parts of the country and in other disciplines," he said.

"What's amazing about the University of Nebraska Medical Center is they saw the future and they built a capability on their own. They didn't ask for federal funding. They recognized that kind of like in the 'Field of Dreams,' if you build it, they will come, and they were right."

Dr. Kadlec's comments are a recognition of the position of leadership now held, and long worked for, by UNMC, said Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.

"We here at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine -- through 15 years of preparation and planning -- have become a key part of the fight against health insecurity and risk in the United States and the world," Dr. Gold said.

In 2016, ASPR awarded UNMC $19.8 million to establish the HHS Training, Simulation, Quarantine Center (TSQC), which will be on the ground level of the Davis Global Center building currently under construction. The TSQC will be managed by the UNMC Global Center for Health Security.

Rick Bright, Ph.D., director of ASPR's Biomedical Advances Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Don Boyce, J.D., director of ASPR's Office of Emergency Management, and Kevin Yeskey, M.D., senior consultant for the ASPR, accompanied the assistant secretary.

Dr. Kadlec said what struck him about his tour of the biocontainment unit was its evident humanity. He noted that there is a plaque to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Salia, the physician infected with Ebola who was treated but could not be saved. Dr. Kadlec said he could see that Dr. Salia's death was emotional for the biocontainment unit team, even years later.

"To see the biocontainment facility, you realize that like many facilities, it has four walls and doors and assorted equipment," Dr. Kadlec said. "But the heart of it is the people and the commitment of the people to train and maintain their currencies, and to put themselves at risk when others are at risk themselves."

Dr. Kadlec noted it was his first visit to UNMC. "It won't be my last," he said.

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Tom O'Connor
April 06, 2018 at 10:26 AM

This was an impressive event for UNMC/Nebraska Medicine. Our thanks to Dr. Kadlec and his team for paying us a visit!