The hospital's HVAC system maintains negative air pressure in patient rooms.

The new, high-tech $36 million Texas Center for Infectious Disease (TCID), San Antonio, will start providing care this month for some of the most complicated tuberculosis (TB) cases in the state.

The 65,000-square-foot health care facility treats severe, drug-resistant TB patients who require a hospital stay ranging from three months to two years; the average stay is six months. TCID replaces the original 57-year-old State Tuberculosis Hospital.

The center is the largest construction project in the nation dedicated to the treatment and inpatient care of TB, and is one of only six hospitals in the United States providing care exclusively to TB patients. Texas has 13 percent of all TB cases in the United States, according to David Lakey, M.D., Texas health commissioner.

The facility's HVAC system provides 100 percent outside air to patients' rooms after it is high-efficiency particulate-air (HEPA) filtered and treated by an ultraviolet light system, says Christine Mann, assistant press officer, Texas Department of State Health Services.

"Each patient room is equipped to provide negative air pressure to maintain a flow of air into the room and to keep contaminants and pathogens from reaching surrounding areas. Negative pressure isolation rooms are essential to protect health care providers and other patients," says Mann.