By Angela Casco

Dealing with the pandemic that is coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) has left hospitals operating in maximum, if not beyond, capacity. This has prompted many of the country’s designers and builders to come up with easy-to-build and easy-to-replicate facilities that can accommodate the overflow of patients.

A4E0A46E 9A1C 4850 873D A1099DB024D3 - Architects and engineers turn shipping containers into makeshift Covid-19 hospitals     

Four weeks into the enhanced community quarantine, a two-week extension to go, and more than 3,000 confirmed cases to attend to, more volunteers are sharing design ideas and bringing it to life in the hopes of decongesting hospitals and flattening the curve.

This is what one group of volunteer architects and engineers have been busying themselves within the past two weeks or so—designing intensive care and isolation units out of repurposed shipping containers for Covid-19 patients.

Called Rapid Deployment Hospital or simply, RaD, the makeshift hospital has a total of 24 isolation rooms and nurse stations at 151 square meters of floor space.

“One RaD cluster consists of six 20-footer shipping containers, configured into rows of three facing a center corridor,” Mac Evangelista, the initiative’s project head, indicates in a presentation she has shared on Facebook. “This center corridor serves as the access to the patient rooms and is also where the nurse station is located. Lavatories are provided at the center corridor for hand washing protocols.”

Evangelista, along with her design team—a mix of engineers and architects, including Aly Reyes, Mark Azuela, Karry Adawey, Mitch Meñez, and Joan Argarin—have collaborated to come up with the structure’s concept. More volunteers—mostly healthcare architects—have also joined the project after an online call for expert designers and builders.

Doctors at the frontlines in the battle against the viral disease, as well as consultants from the Department of Health, have also provided comments to make sure the structure meets standards and guide the team in employing negative air pressure for effective isolation.

Much like other makeshift Covid-19 facilities, RaD is easily scalable. With round-the-clock construction and no ground excavation required, one RaD cluster can be finished in 10 days.

RaD’s function is not limited to infectious diseases, though. Post-pandemic, each cluster can be disassembled and distributed to barangays. Communities can utilize it as clinics, operating rooms, delivery rooms, laboratories, among many others.

As of this writing, the team is about to begin setting up its pilot facility at the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City. Part of the initial plan is to have RaD in other referral centers, too, such as the Philippine General Hospital, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, St. Luke’s Quezon City, and Makati Medical Center.

The team is also hard at work in calling for donations—both monetary and in kind—as the labor cost for one facility is at an estimated ₱523,000, while decommissioned container vans and construction materials like steel and fiber cement are needed. Once operational, RaD staff will also need personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, face shields, among others.

Interested donors can donate via the project’s Ticket2Me page (https://bit.ly/2VbqUYi), through crowdfunding platform, Gava (ww.bit.ly/RaDGavaDonate), or directly to Evangelista at 0918 649 3213.

“The hospitals need more ICU units and our frontliners are overwhelmed, but they don’t need to be,” Evangelista says in a Facebook post. “Please help us help them.”

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