Thirty-five hospitals across the country now are designated as Ebola treatment centers, with more hospitals to be named in the coming weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday.
The facilities, in 12 states and the District of Columbia, will serve to supplement the nation's four hospitals equipped with bio-containment units—Emory University Hospital in Atlanta; University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha; the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Bethesda, Md.; and St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Mont., according to the agency.
“As long as Ebola is spreading in West Africa, we must prepare for the possibility of additional cases in the United States,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden in a statement. “We are implementing and constantly strengthening multiple levels of protection, including increasing the number of hospitals that have the training and capabilities to manage the complex care of an Ebola patient. These hospitals have worked hard to rigorously assess their capabilities and train their staff.”
The increase in designated treatment facilities raises the number of hospital beds available to treat an Ebola case from 8 to 53.
The White House, in asking for roughly $6.2 billion in emergency funding to fight Ebola, had envisioned one hospital in each state designated as an Ebola center. CDC did not address that plan in its announcement of the 12-state network of centers Tuesday.
In response to the announcement, the American Hospital Association issued a statement calling on Congress to approve $500 million in funding to help hospitals improve their preparation against the virus.
“We commend President Obama's request for additional funding to fight Ebola both at home and abroad,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, the president's request for emergency funding for hospitals falls far short of what is needed to protect our patients and communities.”
Also on Tuesday the CDC issued guidance to help state and hospital officials identify and designate a facility as an Ebola treatment center.
It is still uncertain whether any of the facilities designated by federal officials to treat Ebola will receive reimbursement from the government for providing care. The costs associated with treating an Ebola patient have been estimated to run between $18,000 and $24,000 a day.
None of the $6.2 billion the Obama administration requested to fight Ebola in the U.S. and West Africa addresses compensating hospitals for treating Ebola patients, an issue that has become a source of contention among a number of health providers.
More than 80% of returning travelers from Ebola-stricken countries live within 200 miles of the designated Ebola treatment centers, according to the CDC. Each designated center has been assessed by one of the agency's Rapid Ebola Preparedness Teams to have the capabilities and resources to treat an Ebola patient. More than 50 hospitals in 15 states and the District of Columbia have been assessed by the CDC as of Dec. 1.
A majority of treatment centers are located in areas near the five international airports where travelers from Ebola-stricken countries are required to arrive to undergo entry screenings and monitoring.