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The container hospital: a quick and efficient tool for healthcare

13/12/2021 10:12
The container hospital: a quick and efficient tool for healthcare

At first glance, the concept of a 'container hospital' might seem somewhat paradoxical: how could a complex healthcare facility operate within a mobile structure constructed from panels? While this would have been unimaginable a few decades ago, container hospitals are increasingly being used in various contexts today. What possibilities does this concept offer, and in what situations can the world derive the greatest benefits from it? In today's blog post, we explore these questions.

Pandemic Situation: Rapid Response to Swift Spread

The coronavirus pandemic that began in 2020 posed a challenge even to the healthcare systems of wealthier countries. In the most testing waves, many places faced not only a shortage of healthcare workers but also a lack of physical space to adequately care for patients. Various responses emerged to address this crisis. A notable example is the Nightingale Hospital in London, named after the famous nursing reformer Florence Nightingale. Converted from an event space with the assistance of the military, the transformation took just two weeks, creating a temporary complex with 4,000 beds using mobile partitioning.

Container Hospital - Care Where It's Needed

However, there are situations when there simply isn't available space that can be quickly adapted for healthcare use. In such cases, container hospitals are being constructed in many places, as they can be easily equipped within a few weeks to provide safe and fully functional healthcare facilities. A domestic example is the mobile hospital in Kiskunhalas, Hungary, which was erected in just two and a half weeks. The complex consists of 225 containers, covering an area of 3100 square meters, with 36 patient rooms. Similar examples can be seen in Turin, Italy, and Seoul, South Korea. In New Delhi, India, the container hospital provided an SOS solution for the shortage of medical oxygen during the pandemic. These mobile facilities were set up directly next to the factories producing liquid medical oxygen, eliminating the need for transportation and saving valuable time.

Advantages of a container hospital

They are easily designed: thanks to modular elements, the design process does not require much time.

They are quick to build: they can be erected in a matter of weeks.

Cost-effective: while ideal for temporary use, they save the budget from significant expenses.

High quality: sturdy, durable, and suitable for operating complex technical systems required in healthcare.

The key to development can also be the container hospital

Before the pandemic, container hospitals primarily demonstrated their invaluable assistance to healthcare in war-torn zones and economically disadvantaged countries. One shining example is the container hospital set up on Mombasa Island in Kenya in 2016. Constructed entirely from used shipping containers, the facility was operated by members of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and its opening provided significant help. Prior to this, access to maternity care for local women was challenging, requiring a complicated journey, including a ferry ride for examinations and childbirth, which posed serious health risks in complicated cases. The hospital proved to be a success, and since then, a permanent hospital building has been made available to the locals.

Another interesting example is the container hospital in Léogâne, Haiti, established in 2010 during the devastating earthquake, also thanks to Médecins Sans Frontières. Besides providing care for earthquake-related injuries, the hospital has proven particularly useful in handling traffic accidents and assisting in childbirth.

At Mobilainer, we always follow with interest how modern, container-based solutions are applied worldwide. In our own offerings, we strive to satisfy various functions, including the availability of medical/emergency facilities among our mobile containers.

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