The thousands of Covid-19 cases are testing the capacity of healthcare infrastructures worldwide. Given the rapid escalation of severe and critical cases, the shortage of medicalized beds and ICU beds have become a global constant that health administrations, hospitals and clinics in all countries are striving to solve.

The increase in the capacity of the existing infrastructures must allow adequate care for Covid-19 patients, while maintaining care activity for other patients. This increase is also a challenge, since any proposed solution must be designed to mitigate the risk of further transmission of the virus within the health infrastructure itself. New and more flexible solutions need to be found.

Along these lines, Arup, combining the multidisciplinary and international experience together with Pinearq's hospital design experience, has created CareBox; a guide that addresses the global need for more beds, with scalable, modular, and fast-building solutions that can be transported, deployed, and applied to provide additional capacity in a range of specific environments, from existing healthcare campuses to independent facilities.

Three solutions in one

CareBox can be adapted to the space and the equipment available, which is vital given the wide variety of challenges that different healthcare systems face, including:

  • Plug-in hospitals: modular spaces connected to existing healthcare infrastructures. They combine the concept of ready-to-use field hospital with the advantage of connecting to an existing healthcare infrastructure (medical personnel, logistics and access to medicines, as well as other services).
  • The installation of medicalized pavilions in available interior spaces such as multi-storey car parks or empty commercial areas, where the exterior space does not allow traditional field hospital solutions.
  • Adaptation of large spaces such as convention centres, sports spaces or outdoor areas protected by tents or other temporary structures, turning them into healthcare places that function efficiently.

Ready for the next wave

Experts assure that the epidemic is not controlled and that there is a risk of a new outbreak, reaching a second or even third wave. CareBox will provide an efficient, low-cost solution allowing healthcare systems, almost anywhere, to expand their critical healthcare facilities in a rapidly and planned way. This means that patients will be treated effectively until the vaccine is available, promoting the proper functioning of the economy, and knowing that their healthcare systems will not be overloaded.

CareBox can also be valuable in developing countries, or in those with limited healthcare infrastructure. Once deployed, CareBox could remain in these communities after the pandemic to provide much-needed long-term facilities, or relocat to other places where the need is greatest.

Javier Galán, Arup Associate and co-author of the project, points out: "There are many vulnerable communities facing the virus with limited healthcare resources. The Arup Healthcare team is working closely with Arup International Development to find solutions that are better adapted to situations of limited resources in Bangladesh, Myanmar, as well as depressed areas of Latin America."

Arup and Pinearq are in talks with international development aid organizations to adjust CareBox to different real situations. Understanding the challenges of each case, we will apply our technical expertise to these contexts, to help local teams implement the best possible solutions in each environment.

To access the different guides click here.

For the original text in Spanish, go to the Hospitecnia website.