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Introducing CareBox: modular healthcare expansion for COVID-19

Dan Moran Dan Moran Associate Director | Buildings,Dublin
1 May 2020

Across the world, increasing bed capacity to deal with the surge in COVID-19 patients is a central challenge. Hospital campuses are typically constrained sites, and any solution must mitigate the risk of further virus transmission. With a critical shortage of intensive care and ward beds, the need for a new, more flexible solution is clear. 

Arup’s CareBox is a series of design guidelines for scalable, modular and rapid solutions to solve this problem.  It can be quickly transported, deployed and implemented to provide additional capacity in a range of settings, from existing healthcare campuses to conversion of existing facilities. With the high potential/probability of further waves of infection, and an effective vaccine still in development, CareBox will prove valuable until the pandemic passes.

Three ways to expand capacity

We have designed CareBox to be adaptable, to suit a variety of spaces and contexts, so that it can address the widest range of challenges faced by different national healthcare systems. These include: 

The 'plug-in' hospital

The 'plug-in' hospital

This is a ready-to-use, modular designed, field hospital that can be attached to existing healthcare infrastructure. It helps connect medical staff, logistics and provides access to medical gases and other vital treatments and services. 

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Reusing spaces

Reusing spaces

This use of CareBox enables additional wards in available spaces such as vacant commercial spaces in cities and towns, where there is limited external space for traditional field hospital solutions. 

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Adapting existing buildings

Adapting existing buildings

This CareBox specification brings health services to existing buildings like convention centres, sports halls or outdoor areas sheltered by tents or other temporary structures, converting them into efficient-to-operate healthcare venues. 

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With a likely second wave of cases, CareBox will allow healthcare providers in almost any location to ramp up supply of critical care facilities quickly, providing an efficient, low cost solution. This means greater numbers of patients can be treated effectively and helps the rest of the economy to operate, knowing that healthcare services will not become overloaded. 

It will also prove effective in developing countries, or those with limited existing healthcare infrastructure. Once implemented, it could continue to be valuable to these communities, either providing ongoing medical facilities, or be redeployed to other locations where the need is greatest. 

Watch: Video demonstrating the plug in facilities scenario concept.

Changed circumstances call for new ideas. CareBox is a collaboration between Arup’s engineering healthcare, international development and community engagement teams.

To find out more about CareBox and how it can build healthcare capacity for your service, contact us.