In support of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) biosafety and safety engineering program, the professionals were required to conduct thorough plan reviews for NIH renovations and new construction activities and provide guidance to ensure safety criteria was met. One of the many facilities included as part of this assignment was the NIH Clinical Center; the largest hospital devoted entirely to clinical research in the United States. The hospital is a national resource that makes it possible to rapidly translate scientific observations and laboratory discoveries into new approaches for diagnosing, treating and preventing disease. The Clinical Center sees 10,000 new research participants annually.
Part of CRC’s mission was to consult on the design, construction and validation of the Special Clinical Studies Unit (SCSU); a 7-bed patient isolation care unit with 3 double occupancy rooms and 1 single-occupancy room. This high-level containment facility is one of a handful of such facilities in the United States. The unit’s state of the art infrastructure (isolation capabilities and infection control algorithms) allows for the study of patients harboring potentially infectious pathogens or for the performance of clinical research protocols involving the use of infectious vectors (e.g. attenuated live virus vaccine challenge studies). Most recently an American healthcare worker was admitted to the after testing positive for the Ebola virus.
CRC’s professionals participated in the design review and provided professional advice on the infection control, containment and isolation aspects of the design for the SCSU. During construction, the professionals made periodic visits to the site to ensure compliance to national guidelines and regulations. Post construction, CRC certified the negative air pressure systems with single-pass air-conditioning system. CRC continues to validate the SCSU’s engineering systems as required.