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Boston Plans for Triage and Isolation – Review of Available Portable Isolation Units

Elizabeth Gross, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) is an Ambulatory Cancer Center, a major research institute with an associated vivarium, and a hospital with 27 licensed beds at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH). DFCI is located in the Longwood Medical Area (LMA), in close proximity to BWH, Children's Hospital (TCH) and Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), all of which are Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospitals. DFCI has joint ventures with both BWH and TCH, and patients needing hospitalization are admitted to those hospitals.

DFCI has more than 3,000 employees and more than 175,000 adult and pediatric patient visits annually. It is DFCI's policy and practice to remain open 7 days a week, despite any local disaster or severe weather, for both patient emergencies, essential facility support, and round-the-clock animal care. A pandemic event would stress any hospital's capacity to care for patients, but, given that our patients are immunocompromised and thus highly susceptible to infection, it would be imperative to be able to both care for patients and keep infectious ones in contained facilities, away from non-infected ones. It is for this reason that we have begun to look at portable isolation tents for screening patients and staff in case of a pandemic flu episode.

DFCI has worked collaboratively with both the LMA and BWH Disaster Committees to ensure an appropriate level of response, both for inter-hospital and intra-hospital emergencies. In this presentation, there will be a discussion of how a decision was made to select a portable isolation unit suitable for use both as a single unit, as well as a multiple-hospital use unit, should it be needed. In addition, there will be a discussion of Boston's overall plans for pandemic flu preparedness.


Elizabeth Gross has an M.S. degree in industrial hygiene from the Harvard School of Public Health, an M.A. degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and a B.A. degree from the University of Michigan. Prior to her experiences in industrial hygiene, she was a registered respiratory therapist at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Since 1985, Ms. Gross has been Director of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, directing a staff of EH&S professionals, who oversee all aspects of chemical, biological and radiation protection.

Ms. Gross is a Visiting Lecturer both in the Industrial Hygiene Core program at Harvard School of Public Health and a Laboratory Safety Consultant for many of the start-up biotechnology companies in the Boston area.

She has served on boards of several professional organizations, which include the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH), the Academy of Industrial Hygiene (AIH), the New England Section of the AIHA and Harvard's ERC Advisory Board. She is a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH).

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