Just four weeks after the launch of CURA, a global open-source initiative aimed to convert shipping containers into plug-in Intensive-Care Pods for COVID-19 patients – the first unit has been built and installed at a temporary hospital in Turin, Italy. Each CURA pod is as fast to be mounted as a hospital tent, but as safe as a regular isolation ward, thanks to biocontainment with negative pressure. Several more units are under construction in other parts of the world.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads internationally, the first prototype of an open-source project to create plug-in intensive care units (ICU) from shipping container is built and installed at a hospital in Italy. CURA (acronym for “Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments” and also “Cure” in Latin) proposes a quick-to-deploy solution to expand emergency facilities and ease the pressure on healthcare systems treating patients infected by coronavirus. CURA strives to be as fast to be mounted as a hospital tent, but as safe as a regular isolation ward to work in, thanks to the comprehensive biocontainment equipment. The first CURA pod will start to admit patients on April 19th, 2020 at a new temporary hospital set up in Turin, northern Italy, one of the world’s hardest-hit regions by the pandemic.
CURA was designed and produced in four weeks as a result of the joined effort of an international task force. The group includes, among the others, designers at Carlo Ratti Associati with Italo Rota, engineers at Jacobs, and health technology company Philips for medical equipment supply.
In the last weeks, hospitals in the countries most affected by COVID-19 have been struggling to increase their ICU capacity to admit a growing number of patients suffering from severe respiratory diseases, who are in need of ventilators. Regardless of how the pandemic situation would unfold, it is expected that more ICUs will be needed internationally in the next few months. CURA aims to improve the efficiency of the existing design solutions of field hospitals, producing a compact ICU pod that is quick-to-deploy and safe to work in for medical professionals.
Each unit is hosted in a 20-foot intermodal container, repurposed with biocontainment equipment. An extractor creates indoor negative pressure, complying with the standards of Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms AIIRs. Two glass windows carved on the opposite sides of the containers are meant for doctors to always get a sense of the status of patients both inside and outside the pods. Also, this would potentially allow external visitors to get closer to their relatives in a safer and more humane setting. Each pod works autonomously and can be promptly shipped to any location around the world, adapting to the needs of the local healthcare infrastructure.
The first CURA pod has been built and installed in the framework of the temporary hospital set up by top Italian health authorities in the former OGR industrial complex in the city of Turin. CURA provides ICUs for the hospital, which has about 90 beds for patients affected by coronavirus. The pod contains all the medical equipment needed for two ICU patients, including ventilators and monitors as well as intravenous fluid stands and syringe drivers. The unit is connected to the rest of the hospital by an inflatable structure, which serves as storage and changing room. Potentially, the inflatable unit can be used to connect more than one pod to create multiple modular configurations, either in proximity to a hospital or as a self-standing field hospital.