Nebraska Biocontainment Unit is topic of Omaha Science Café Sept. 17


Jimmy Carroll

A training session in UNMC's Biocontainment Unit to prep for extreme circumstances.
A training session in UNMC’s Biocontainment Unit to prep for extreme circumstances. Photo courtesy of UNMC Communications.

The Nebraska Biocontainment Unit (NBU) at Nebraska Medicine will be a topic of discussion at the Sept. 17 Omaha Science Café at the Slowdown, featuring clinical coordinator Morgan Shradar.

Shradar has been with Nebraska Medicine since 2000 when she started as an operating room nurse and then became leader of the surgery department. She has taken on several other roles within Nebraska Medicine, as well.

Shradar says her most notable experience with the biocontainment unit is serving patients who were infected by Ebola back in 2014.

“March 2005 is when the biocontainment unit first opened, “Shradar said, “and it was put to the ultimate test in summer 2014.”

The biocontainment team was challenged to provide care for three people who had high risk exposure.

Shradar mentioned that her team was as prepared as they could be. They ran drills every day for people with infectious diseases. The team asked themselves: “How do we keep staff safe? What type of equipment do we wear? Are we smart enough to do this?”

Shelly Schwedhelm is the executive director for Emergency Management and Biopreparedness at Nebraska Medicine. She has been a nurse for 37 years, and both Nebraska Medicine and her career changed after treating Ebola patients.

“Taking someone here in Omaha with Ebola would have been the worst-case scenario,” Shradar said.

The U.S. State Health Department visited the biocontainment in August 2014, just months after the Ebola patients arrived. The patients survived. Schwedhelm said Shradar is “a great teacher, very actively involved in the mission of the biocontainment unit.”

“I encourage everyone to take part in the Science Café on Tuesday at the Slowdown in Omaha,” Schwedhelm said.

Schwedhelm has been featured on a national podcast called the NACCHO (National Association of County and Health Officials) Podcast Series. The episode she is featured in is from Sept. 11, 2019. She is interviewed at the eight-minute mark and provides in-depth details of the training program. Click here for more.

Shradar and Schwedhelm believe that the Omaha Science Café will attract many people who want more information about the biocontainment unit. Science Cafés include face-to-face conversations with scientists and are open to anyone 21 and older. The Slowdown is located at 729 N. 14 St. in Omaha.