Salus journal

Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Healthcare / Service redesign

Storage containers repurposed as isolation units for alternative care facilities

By Andrew Sansom 08 May 2020 0

Design practice CallisonRTKL has collaborated with moving and storage company PODS to develop containers that can be repurposed into isolation units for alternative healthcare facilities treating COVID-19 positive patients.

Working with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the two companies have made modifications to existing PODS containers so they can be used as rapid-response airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIRs), enhancing protection for healthcare workers while they care for infectious patients.

Design features implemented to limit the risks to healthcare workers are reported to include:

  • Isolation – patients are isolated in an enclosed space, limited to healthcare workers outside of the immediate patient care space.
  • Transparency – the front wall of the container is designed with a full-glass door and sidelights to provide maximum patient visibility.
  • Sanitation – seamless flooring with a cove base is installed to facilitate good housekeeping and surface disinfection.
  • Lighting – multiple levels of lighting within the container have been provided for patient comfort. Overbed lighting is provided for routine daytime settings with supplemental ceiling-mounted exam lighting and wall-mounted night lights.
  • HVAC – heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems are designed to provide horizontal air flow, introducing air from the front of the container and discharging air directly behind the patient at the rear of the container.
  • Ease of installation – each container has individual electrical panels and condenser units mounted to the back of the container to simplify installation and commissioning of units within an alternate care site.

According to PODS, USACE developed, tested and approved the conversion of PODS 12-foot and 16-foot containers into self-contained rooms with hospital beds that can be used for COVID-19 positive patients. 

The specification of the containers is said to include: washable walls and floor cover in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines; emergency back-up power; electrical and data outlets; exhaust fan with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtering; louvre with gravity damper and balancing damper; and a modified isolation room entry door with direct line-of-sight visibility of the patient.

PODS says it can quickly deploy containers – whether just a few or hundreds – to authorised retrofit facilities. Once retrofitted, the company will then use its nationwide network to deploy them for use inside alternative care facilities.