EOH converts shipping containers to COVID-19 ICU units

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Technology services company EOH has developed an innovative intensive care unit (ICU) in a box to treat COVID-19 patients.

The firm is remodelling shipping containers to use them as ICU units for critically ill COVID-19 patients.

It says the COVID-19 pandemic has strained healthcare systems throughout the world.

EOH has heeded president Cyril Ramaphosa’s urgent call for increased field hospital capacity and access to critical treatment facilities to treat COVID-19 patients across SA, says the company in a statement.

As of this morning, SA’s COVID-19 cases stand at 17 200, with 312 people having succumbed to the virus.

Amid the pandemic, EOH teams have been working on various solutions as part of the group’s SolveCOVID-19 programme.

Movable solution

Milton Streak, business executive within EOH, says: “Supply-side innovation can strengthen the entire healthcare value chain and ensure the efficient allocation of resources.

“EOH is well-placed to help South Africa respond to the dynamic shifts of this virus and navigate the business challenges that will emerge as a result of this pandemic. EOH has committed to working closely with government and the healthcare sector to identify solutions and technology to assist in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The EOH health infrastructure design team has been working on a variety of isolation-ward combinations that can rapidly provide healthcare professionals with additional capacity. One of these, known as ICUlate, is an “intensive care and isolation ward in a box”, the company says.

According to EOH, ICUlate includes the complete spectrum of compliant infrastructure needed for both isolation wards and intensive care units, with the flexibility to easily downscale to accommodate either.

It complies fully with international isolation ward and intensive care unit standards and can be transported easily to any location within Southern Africa, says the firm.

“In South Africa, many of our people live in townships where there is high population density, insufficient nutrition, healthcare services and a limited supply of running water,” Streak says.

“The virus could spread rapidly in these environments. We need solutions that will help flatten the curve in these communities, as a failure to do so will be truly devastating. Rapid responses to slow the pandemic are required. Fully-equipped, ready-to-go solutions, field hospitals and mobile ICU units can play an important role in managing the impact of this virus, especially in remote areas of our country. We’re hoping to roll out as many units as possible to assist in the fight against this disease.”

EOH explains that ICUlate units can be deployed as standalone temporary units on greenfield sites, existing ward conversions or bolt-on wards to existing facilities that can be removed or re-purposed as mobile clinics post-COVID-19.

The concept can either be an independent, fully-functional containerised solution or a larger field hospital complex, or it can have its primary services retrofitted into an existing hospital or non-hospital facility, including non-traditional environments such as conference centres, sports fields or community halls, it adds.

Rapid deployment

The ICUlate units are fully equipped with all the infrastructure and technology services such as HVAC, power, communication, lighting, nurse call, medical gas and water. Hospital equipment and furniture can be included as additions.

The company says 10 ICUlate units are close to being deployed to Lesotho, and numerous retrofit projects are currently being carried out for the South African Department of Health.

EOH is working on retrofit projects for two private and research hospital groups, including Lenmed, to prepare them for the management of COVID-19 infections.

The ICUlate concept was designed in-house by Dihlase Consulting Engineers, a subsidiary of EOH based in its Cape Town office.

The bigger emergency hospital facility was established as a result of collaboration between Dihlase and specialist hospital architects whom they partner with. The team collectively has over 200 years’ experience in hospital and communicable-disease facility design.

Mohammed Rawat, regional director at Dihlase, says: “Our ICUlate innovation is a purely South African design stemming from years of experience and in-depth research on infection control systems applicable to communicable diseases by our team.

“The knowledge gained from working closely with infection control specialists from the health sector was a huge factor in being able to finalise our design concept within three days. What is impressive about the ICUlate is that it is designed to be standalone and mobile-friendly. The modular design approach allows for flexibility and scalability, with off-site manufacture reducing costs and time while ensuring rapid deployment.”

EOH develops portable ICU solution for COVID-19

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