March 30, 2015

Biocontainment Unit celebrates 10th anniversary

The University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine is celebrating the 10th anniversary of their Biocontainment Unit. Over the past six months, the unit treated three patients with Ebola, including Dr. Rick Sacra. He attended the today’s events in Omaha.

Dr. Sacra says, “I would like to thank the state of Nebraska, the leadership of Nebraska Medicine and the Biocontainment Unit leadership and all the doctors and nurses who cared for me. The kind of foresight, planning and dedication and political will you showed over the last decade is a rare thing. You saved my life. I will never forget you.”

Dr. Rick Sacra was the first individual to be treated at the unit. He contracted Ebola last September and remained hospitalized for several weeks. In the past six months the unit treated three patients and monitored six others for the Ebola virus.

Unit staff also provided Ebola training to more than 30 of the top hospitals and academic medical centers in the country, developed online courses and webinars, hosted symposiums and participated in a research study for an experimental drug.

Unit team members were also recognized for their dedication today.

Garth Brooks breaks Nebraska ticket sales record

Garth Brooks/Photo courtesy of

Garth Brooks/Photo courtesy of

Several records have been broken regarding an upcoming concert in Nebraska. Kristi Andersen with the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority in Omaha says four more Garth Brooks shows have been added to his run at the CenturyLink Center.

Andersen adds that Brooks also broken the Nebraska ticket sales record. The old record was also held by Brooks and that was in September of 2997 when he sold 66,661 tickets for an appearance at the Devaney Center in Lincoln.

Today, Brooks sold 83,749 tickets for the upcoming concert in Omaha and they are still selling.

Brooks will be in concert on Thursday, May 7th at 7:30 pm, Friday, May 8th at 7 pm and 10:30 pm. Other performances include Saturday, May 9th at 7 pm and at 10:30 pm. His final concert is set for May 10th at 7 pm.

Property tax deadline for some Nebraskans is March 31

An important tax deadline for Nebraskans in three counties is March 31.  Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing says that is the deadline to pay the first half of 2014 personal property taxes.

Ewing says, “Unfortunately with the state statutes that are in place for people who don’t pay the property taxes that interest accrues at 14% interest.”

This deadline is only for those who live in counties with populations greater than 100,000 and that include three counties in Nebraska, Lancaster, Douglas and Sarpy.

Ewing says residents of those counties can pay by mail, if it is received by midnight on March 31st. Other options include paying in person, by phone or online.

Omaha Police Union reacts to comments by Sen. Chambers

The backlash against comments made by Omaha State Senator Ernie Chambers continues today. Senator Chambers referred to police as terrorists and if he had a gun he would protect himself from the police. John Wells is the president of the Omaha Police Officers Association and says those comments are outrageous and members of the organization are very concerned. 

Wells says, “They are upset. Everyone has the same emotion of I can’t believe that an elected official has basically said if you have the means to go shoot a police officer by God go do it. My concern is that some week minded individual will take him up on that offer.” 

Wells adds that Senator Chambers is also hypocritical by talking about all the problems, specifically in north Omaha and somehow blames police officers responding to situations they have to respond to. He says they go into places to stop violence but Senator Chambers introduces bills that lower mandatory minimums and probation for violent offenses and that is outrageous. 

Wells says they are calling on other state senators to take some sort of action against Senator Chambers.

UNMC oncologist applauds Angelina Jolie going public about preventative cancer surgery

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie

Two years ago actress Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy as a precaution after blood tests showed she had an 87% chance of developing cancer.

Last week, Jolie underwent surgery and had both ovaries and fallopian tubes removed after another test showed high markers, a sign of possible early cancer. Jolie’s mother, grandmother and aunt died from cancer and she carries a gene mutation that increases her chance of developing that illness.

Dr. Kerry Rodabaugh, gynecological oncologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, says this is not a rare occurrence and something they deal with frequently.

Dr. Rodabaugh says, “Surgery is not automatic. It is a personal decision on everyone’s part. I think the most important thing is women and men also, to be aware of their family history and have that discussion with their physician. Then we can develop risk reduction strategies that often do include surgeries but don’t necessarily have to.”

Dr. Rodabaugh also applauds Jolie’s decision to go public. She says, “Anytime we can raise awareness to these issues, protect women, give them the information they need to make decisions for themselves and see the courage that women have to take care of themselves and their families.”