ST. PAUL — Four Minnesota hospitals, including Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester, have been designated as treatment centers for any confirmed Ebola cases in the state, the Minnesota Hospital Association said Friday.

The other hospitals are University of Minnesota Medical Center's West Bank campus in Minneapolis, Allina Health's Unity Hospital in Fridley and the St. Paul campus of Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Minnesota Hospital Association president and CEO Lawrence Massa said hospitals in the state have been preparing for the possibility of an Ebola patient for the past three weeks. But he said what happened at a Dallas hospital, where two nurses contracted Ebola after caring for a man who died of the virus, showed Minnesota needed to rethink its plan.

Massa said the original thinking was that universal precautions for health care workers treating Ebola patients would be enough. "But it obviously didn't work in the first (Ebola) case in this country," he said.

Minnesota's health commissioner, Dr. Ed Ehlinger, said the four Minnesota hospitals stepped forward because they are in a position to treat Ebola patients. Ehlinger said he's confident those hospitals "will do it at the top level that we have at this point in time."

The first confirmed Ebola case in Minnesota would go to the University of Minnesota and the second to Mayo Clinic Hospitals — Rochester Saint Marys Campus, the officials said.

Level 1 trauma centers such as Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis and Regions Hospital in St. Paul were not designated so they can stay free to handle regional emergencies, Massa said.

Any Ebola patients in Minnesota also might be transferred to one of four federal biocontainment facilities.

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