Open source design that transforms shipping containers into intensive care units (ICU) at record speed

In the past few weeks, hospitals situated in covid-19 most affected countries have had difficulty increasing their capacity to admit an increasing number of patients with severe respiratory diseases who need ventilators. Regardless of how the pandemic situation develops, more ICUs are expected to be needed internationally in the coming months.

“CURA” aims to improve the efficiency of existing field hospital design solutions by producing a compact intensive care pod that is quick to implement and safe for medical professionals.

CURA (acronym for “Connected Units for Respiratory Disorders” as well as “Cure” in Latin) offers a quick solution to be implemented to expand emergency structures and relieve pressure on the health systems that treat patients infected with coronavirus-19. Just four weeks after the launch of the open source global initiative to convert shipping containers into plug-in intensive care capsules for covid-19 patients,  the first unit was built and installed in a temporary hospital in Turin, Italy.  Each CURA unit is quick to assemble like a hospital tent, but safe as a normal isolation department, thanks to the bio-containment with negative pressure. Several other units are under construction in other parts of the world, from the United Arab Emirates to Canada.

Open source design that transforms shipping containers into intensive care units (ICU) at record speed - CURA in Turin Italy - credits Max Tomasinelli

CURA was designed and produced in such a short time thanks to the joint effort of an international task force. The group includes, among others, the architects of Carlo Ratti Associati with Italo Rota, Jacobs engineers and Philips health technology companies for the supply of medical equipment.

Each unit is housed in a 20-foot intermodal container, re-proposed with bio-containment equipment. It is based on the reuse of containers to create easily transportable and light biocontainment modules, which is why to cover the module interiors has been selected Compocel,  the aluminum honeycomb panel produced by CEL Components.

Aluminum is a very light material, when coupled with the honeycomb, it becomes very rigid, maintaining a contained thickness and an easily treatable and cleanable surface. Compocel has a good mechanical strength and stiffness.

Open source design that transforms shipping containers into intensive care units (ICU) at record speed

Given the limited internal space of each module, it was important to save as much space as possible in order to leave the greatest possible surface to health workers and to the two beds for patients.
The panels are easily workable and can also be squared with carpentry machinery, to fix any imperfections on site, although CEL can  supply them already squared and edged. 10 mm panels, 10/10 leathers, cell 6, a particularly high-performance panel were used to ensure that it could meet the needs of rigidity and resistance and that shelves or medical devices could be hung on it, if necessary. The panels were then painted with a liquid paint. An extractor creates an internal negative pressure, compliant with AIIR standards of isolation chambers for air infection. Two glass windows cut out on opposite sides of the containers are designed to allow doctors to always have an idea of the state of patients both inside and outside the pods. Furthermore, this would potentially allow external visitors to approach their relatives in a safer and more humane environment. Each pod works autonomously and can be promptly shipped to anywhere in the world, adapting to the needs of the local health infrastructures.

The first CURA pod, sponsored by UniCredit,  was built and installed within the temporary hospital set up by the main Italian health authorities in the former OGR industrial complex in the city of Turin. CURA provides ICU for the hospital, which has around 90 beds for coronavirus patients. The pod contains all the medical equipment needed for two ICU patients, including ventilators and monitors, as well as intravenous fluid holders and syringe drivers. The unit is connected to the rest of the hospital by an inflatable structure, which serves as a storage and dressing room. Potentially, the inflatable unit can be used to connect more than one pod to create multiple modular configurations, close to a hospital or as an autonomous field hospital.

Open source design that transforms shipping containers into intensive care units (ICU) at record speed

CURA was developed as an open source project, with its technical specifications, drawings and design materials made accessible to everyone online.

List of people and organizations who have contributed to CURA: CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati with Italo Rota (Design and Innovation), Humanitas Research Hospital (Medical Engineering), Policlinico di Milano (Medical Consultancy), Jacobs (Alberto Riva – Master Planning, Design, Construction and Logistics Support Services), MIT Senseable City Lab (Research), Studio FM Milano (Visual Identity & Graphic Design), Squint/Opera (Digital Media), IEC Engineering (Fulvio Sabato – Safety and Certifications), Alex Neame of Team Rubicon UK (Logistics), Ivan Pavanello of Projema (MEP Engineering), Dr. Maurizio Lanfranco of Ospedale Cottolengo (Medical Consultancy), Philips (Medical Equipment Supply), Gruppo Boero (Painting Products)

With the support of the World Economic Forum: Covid-19 Action Platform, and Cities, Infrastructure and Urban Services Platform.

Companies: Cura Pods

Industries: Marine Transportation and Shipbuilding

Terms: News Worldwide

This article has been edited by Basalt.Today
This article has been written on JEC Composites Magazine
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