sThis latest outbreak of Ebola has me concerned. Now, I am certainly no doctor or scientist. I’m an architectural designer. I design animal shelters, boarding kennels, military and police kennels and veterinary hospitals too. Most of these buildings have quarantine rooms in their designs, and that’s what sparks my concern.
I do have a little bit of medical background. I was a US Navy hospital corpsman, an ER staff corpsman, a battle dressing station triage officer, and an ACLS paramedic. I went through the Navy’s training for handling of and the treatment of patients infected with chemical and biological warfare weapons. Back then, it was my job to run towards the fire, the sick and the injured, or the flooding on a ship to fix problems. Today, I design solutions.
Last week on C-Span, I listened to the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations as they try to find answers. Tim Murphy, Chairman, Pennsylvania, outlined that mistakes have been made thus far here in the USA. He also said that 1000 people are entering this country each week from “Ebola hot zones.” I certainly understand that we must protect our homeland, and perhaps travel restrictions are warranted, but there is more that needs to be done, and done right now! It is estimated that more than 4500 people have died as of this writing.
Chairman Murphy noted that the number of Ebola outbreaks in Africa are doubling every three weeks. It seems to me that more effort needs to be directed at stopping ebola at its source. The African hospital workers must have, not only the proper medications and equipment, but they must also have the proper facilities to contain this deadly virus.
Containment is likely the only way to prevent the spread. Last week, I saw a video where a hospital worker was exiting an isolation ward, walking through clear plastic doors, then across the dirt ground where he stepped through a pan of liquid, presumably a disinfectant for his shoes. This is simply not enough.
How can these hospital conditions be changed, and right now, to expedite the eradication of ebola?
Building new hospitals is simply out of the question. It would take too long and too many would die waiting for a bed. This has been going through my head day and night, and then it came to me, maybe the answer is…
Ocean Shipping Containers!
Advantages of building a single-level hospital from available shipping containers.
- Containers make for fast manufacturing–the frame is already to go
- Containers are strong
- Containers are a cheap buildings
- Containers are plentiful, there are thousands of used containers stacked at every seaport
- Containers may be renovated fairly easily to allow for:
- Air-tight man-doors
- Roll-up storage doors
- HVAC mechanical systems
- Containers are easy to ship
- Containers make for easy-setup once delivered on-site
- Containers may be insulated to suit most any climate, cold or hot
- Containers are watertight
- Containers are air-tight
- Containers have steel interior walls that could be easily cleaned and sanitized.
- The only drawback, they have a wooden floor, but there are several options.
More than 21,000 shipping containers enter this country on a daily basis. These extremely strong, steel, air-tight boxes can be quickly modified to make most any kind of room needed. Fitted with proper lighting, plumbing and HVAC, (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), they can be renovated quickly to make quarantine wards, offices, treatment rooms, labs, pharmacy, X-ray rooms, break rooms, supply and storerooms or, of course, kennels. They could even be used for housing for emergency personnel or most any other need. When shipped, each could be packed with all the medical supplies, beds/bedding, HVAC equipment, water heaters, generators, and supplies needed for the specific emergency at hand.
The interior walls and ceilings are metal and may be painted for easy cleaning. The floors are wood, and may be finished a welded sheet goods material or an epoxy finished concrete. Just as in any hospital, the entire inside, then, can be sanitized and the waste water vacuumed from the floor. If no sewage is available or if it is inappropriate for the specific emergency, the water would be collected into storage tanks awaiting treatment.
Once arrived on site, the units would be anchored and the exterior walls and roof would receive spray polyurethane foam insulation, as thick as needed to maintain proper indoor temperatures. Then the exterior would be finished with a spray elastomeric or other roofing material. With proper planning, a little engineering, and some site development while in transit, these units could be occupied within days upon delivery.
So, whether parvovirus in animals or ebola in Africa, think INSIDE the box for emergency quarantine! When you have a need for an overflow kennel, or disaster relief housing, consider shipping containers as an affordable emergency shelter/quarantine kennel, or a full fledged hospital to combat an ebola crisis in West Africa.
Please share this article. Just maybe, it will spark an the right idea, in the right minds.
God’s blessing to those sick and to their health workers.