UNMC Picked for All-Hazards Response Facility Pilot Program


A mock patient is wheeled in an isolation pod during a drill at the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit in the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Oct. 20, 2006. UNMC’s expertise in treating Ebola patients in 2014 helped prompt the federal government to pick the medical center as one of five sites for a new pilot program. (AP)
By 
Molly Ashford
The Daily Record

In a win for the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s ongoing Project NExT, Omaha has been selected as a pilot site to develop a federal all-hazards response facility.

The Nebraska congressional delegation announced last week that UNMC and Nebraska Medicine was selected as one of five sites in the U.S. to pilot their surge capacity response program. 

The other sites are Washington, D.C.; San Antonio; Sacramento, California; and Denver.

This decision is a milestone in Project NExT, a public-private partnership intended to create a disaster response center on UNMC’s campus. If completed, the multi-billion-dollar project will include clinical and research space, pathogens testing, vaccine development, and training for military and national guard.

Nebraska politicians and business leaders expressed that they were excited by the designation.

“The Department of Defense made the right move in selecting Omaha, the home of aworld-class university and medical facility, as a site for this surge capacity response program,” U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer said in a release.

U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, who received the letter stating that Omaha had been selected for the pilot project, also offered praise. 

“As we work to bring an end to the current pandemic, it is absolutely critical that we simultaneously ensure the nation is medically prepared for whatever comes next,” Bacon said in a release. “I am pleased with the decision and grateful for the teamwork of the Congressional delegation and the University of Nebraska that delivered this result.” 

CEO of Nebraska Medicine James Linder said the medical center’s long history of treating infectious diseases and biocontainment makes UNMC and clinical partner Nebraska Medicine a perfect fit. 

“Our treatment of Ebola patients in 2014, being named the nation’s quarantine and training center, our cutting-edge research in infectious diseases and bio preparedness, and serving as a trusted resource during the pandemic are just a few ways in which our expertise has impacted global health care,” Linder said. “Project NExT will put us in an even better position to continue serving our region, country and the world.”

Project NeXT is expected to add nearly $2 billion to the local economy by 2030 and create 8,700 permanent jobs statewide, the Greater Omaha Chamber said citing a 2019 independent economic impact analysis by Tripp Umbach. The chamber said the initiative will support about 32,955 jobs in the construction industry.

“This is an extraordinary first in care and collaboration for the State of Nebraska, area stakeholders, community partners and, especially, UNMC,” Greater Omaha Chamber President and CEO David G. Brown said in a release. “This is a remarkable project, with a remarkable impact. It is an incredible milestone in our collective, aspirational journey toward Greater Omaha 2040, when we expect Omaha to be recognized as one of the greatest, most culturally diverse, prosperous regions in the world.”

Find more information about Project NexT at unmc.edu/project-next.

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