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EMERGENCY FACILITIES


In this context, construction systems


and procedures must be considered as tools to transform existing spaces during emergency periods. Several solutions were developed in Argentina depending on the specific stage of the infection. For patients with mild symptoms of


COVID-19, non-sanitary existing spaces were repurposed as shown in the images below of a modular hospital in Greater Buenos Aires, where an exhibition centre - with a large surface area and easy street access - was equipped to incorporate 2,000 non-hospital beds with the necessary medical equipment. The need to increase the number of


intensive care beds for severe COVID-19 cases found different solutions. Twelve modular hospitals were built in record time in Córdoba, Mar del Plata (Buenos Aires province), Resistencia (Chaco), Granadero Baigorria (Santa Fe), Florencio Varela, Hurlingham, Quilmes, Tres de Febrero, Almirante Brown, Lomas de Zamora, Moreno (General Rodriguez) as well as in suburbs of Greater Buenos Aires. The modular system allows for wide


flexibility as modules can be added at any moment for the expansion of hospitals. In addition, it allows an easy and quick construction and later disassembly and potential relocation. Materials used also provide thermal isolation, such as wall panels made of rigid polyurethane foam. Other solutions used in Argentina are


Aerial view of El Palomar relocatable hospital and right, an inpatient room.


transportable hospitals, provided by the Argentinian Air Force, which has experience in combat zones, and emergency or disaster areas. One of them was based in El Palomar, near Buenos Aires, to attend to patients prior to their transfer to hospital. With an inpatient medical unit of 12 beds, an intensive care unit, an operating room and a laboratory, they have been used to provide emergency services as well as general radiological studies. In addition, Argentina has made use of inflatable hospitals. They are quick to assemble and relocate, featuring highly resistant fabrics made of 100 per cent recyclable polyvinyl chloride (PVC), fire- retardant materials, and ballast to withstand gusts of wind of 100 kilometres per hour. The structure remains standing thanks


to the pressure of the air introduced between the membranes. Operating rooms work with their own membrane like a bag, and the air enters through an H14 high-efficiency particulate air filter that maintains the required conditions.


External and interior images of an inflatable hospital.


Our proposal: shipping container medical units It is clear that due to the adverse circumstances of COVID-19, healthcare planning specialists from diverse backgrounds and disciplines have been forced to address the challenges of providing emergency solutions without having a negative impact on the healthcare capacity of an operational hospital. Furthermore, they also have had to come up with other types of medical assistance infrastructure that lies in between the traditional hospital and home healthcare. We propose a concept of modular


healthcare units that can offer solutions for consulting rooms, general hospitalisation facilities and intensive care units. The solutions are housed in recycled shipping containers and include essential medical equipment and facilities. Some examples of shipping container medical units are already being used in the public health system of Buenos Aires City provided by the local company Ecosan. These are protypes named ‘Unidad Fabril de Emergencia’ (Emergency Fever Unit) are installed


94


Consulting room prototype in a 20-feet shipping container.


outside the hospital and - similar to a consulting room – are where patients with COVID-19 symptoms are attended to for the very first time, thus avoiding the entrance to the main building. Shipping containers have an excellent


structural capacity and offer an easy way to be attached together to generate larger systems. They can be adapted and transformed in workshops and then be delivered and assembled quickly and safely in any destination without unnecessary waste. This construction system allows, as can be seen in the image above, adding a modular growth unit to those already


‘Emergency Fever Unit’ at Dr. Abel Zubizarreta Hospital in Buenos Aires.


IFHE DIGEST 2021


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