Inflatable Hospital Isolation Wards

The continued spread of Covid-19 has resulted in a worldwide shortage of hospital beds. A temporary hospital isolation ward (translated) was co-developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the Korea Institute of Radiological and Medical Sciences (KIRAMS) to help alleviate this problem. We’re not familiar with the logistics and expense of installing traditional temporary hospital facilities, but the figures provided for this inflatable building approach to the problem seem impressive. It takes 14 days to produce one module, a process which presumably could be pipelined. Being 70% lighter and smaller than their rigidly-constructed counterparts, they can be more easily stored and shipped where needed, even by air.

Once on-site, it takes one day to inflate and outfit it with utilities such as electricity, water, and communications. One of these modules, which look like really big inflatable Quonset huts, contains an intensive care unit, four negative-pressure rooms, a nursing station, staff area, changing and bathrooms, and storage. All this in a 450 m2 building 30 m long and 15 m wide. That works out to be almost 2-stories tall, which is confirmed by the photo above.

Now that the design is finished and a functional unit constructed, the goal is to put it into production as soon as possible. Of course, physical hospital facilities are not the only thing in short supply these days — doctors, nursing and support staff, medical supplies, not to mention the vaccinations themselves, are all needed. But hopefully the success of this project can contribute to the global effort of saving lives and getting control of the virus sooner rather than later. The video below is in Korean, but the automatic English subtitles aren’t too bad.

22 thoughts on “Inflatable Hospital Isolation Wards

  1. But for the other 64% (to use your numbers) of humanity, this is an important development! :-)

    Yes, from a geographic point of view there are almost no cases on the oceans, and that’s 75% of the surface! There’s no problem here! :-)

    1. The problem might be more that leaders have over-reacted to covid and ruined civil liberties and the economy in mad panic attempts to stop it, but clever work like these infalatble wards is effective at both stopping the spread of covid and stopping the spread of diastrous lockdown policies. Covid, however big a problem one thinks it, might not be something for which lockdowns can be justified as a solution (too much collateral damage), even where there are >1000 deaths per day to the virus. But however small a problem one may think covid to be, even if it were only killing one person per day, sensible engineering like this is truly helpful. The cost of lockdowns might not be worth it for any level of covid, but the help that one of these inflating wards could provide to a country with even just one hospital-grade-ill covid patient, is going to be mroe than worth the small (for national or even single hospital budget) amount that these would cost.

  2. What you are really trying to say with your comment, isn’t, or atleast shouldn’t be: “covid isn’t a problem”……. but instead hopefully is, or ought to be, : “lockdowns aren’t an appropriate solution to covid, they are just too damaging. Well done KIRAMS for finding a sensible solution to hospital capacity issues and hence sparing us from being crushed under totalitarian, and ineffective, NPI measures”……….

  3. Could take over all travel lodge “hotels” and then burn them down for sterilization purposes after.

    There’s a spectacularly ugly one in the town i grew up in – stylized on a gas monitor – should go well.

    Not against travel lodge in general – just like this scheme as it would get rid of the hideous building and all for a good cause.

    Re the inflatable ward. Impressed with the negative pressure areas in a pressurized structure.

  4. Covid doesn’t need to be a particularly terrible thing to justify the cost of these inflating wards. They’re a simple effective and relatively cheap solution. Can really help towards proper infection control in hospitals, sadly lacking in many places, and getting a good focused protection strategy up and running.

  5. Covid would need to be far more diabolical than it really is to justify lockdowns, but even something much milder than covid is could justify the expense of these inflating wards. Also, lockdowns have been proven ineffective, wards like this would probably be effective though. By all means criticse, and violate, national lockdowns, but give credit where credit is due for wise engineering which helps make unnecessary lockdowns even more unnecessary.

  6. Got any source for that 25%? Only thing i can find is a graph on one site that peaked at 25, sounds to me like youre talking out your ass. Judging also by your comment it sounds like you are ill informed about hos hospitals are structured with regard to patient seperation, is there another agenda under the surface here?

  7. So… some crazy person who chooses to ignore security at the main entrances in order to be with their ill loved one(s), can simply use a knife to cut a back entrance into the facility and wander around among the isolated units spreading germs everywhere. There’s a reason why buildings are more sturdy than a balloon. Naturally, tents have the same problem.

    The military uses expandable, steel double/triple wide trailers to setup emergency hospitals. Perhaps we should be looking closer at those.

    Plan for the worst case scenarios, not the cheapest/most convenient/best case ones.

    1. So what! Better something that will work most of the time, if not when a knife wielder arrives, and do something towards alleviating in-hospital transmission of covid MOST OF THE TIME. In the Uk >25% of covid transmission is within hospitals, makes locking down the rest of society rather pointless, as well as causing huge collateral damage. In an ideal world with infinite resources you’d armour everything against every bad scenario, in the real world, anything that helps reduce hospital transmission is still helping a lot. And if one person with a knife goes in and gets infected, he’s still less likely to mix with vulnerable non-infected people who he could spread the virus to (he’ll flee away from the hospital afterwards and probably not stop off to clean a carehome while evading the cops) than a nurse in a too-small building who is constantly crossing between infected and clean areas. Three cheers for giving hospitals more space.

  8. Tents are lighter, easier to transport, and easier to erect/tear-down. Plus tents do not need power for inflation and they don’t pop. Prefab portable negative pressure wards are a commodity item that work the same regardless of where they are housed. Just pick your closest out of business Shopping Mall or K-Mart Store parking lot as a location (they are everywhere) and plop the tents down. No waiting for inflation.

    1. If there’s empty Kmarts etc, why can’t those be commandeered? When they’re done, they can just run an ozone generator for a week and leave the blood splatter as bonus free decor for the Spirit Halloween store next moving in.

  9. You know those Japanese hotels for one person? What about if all diseased people were placed into a similar containment device? I imagine one of these twice as long as a person (2 to 3 m). Which a person would lay on a super comfy bed, have all tubes required for the person to be in a “UPD” (Universal Personal Device), which would have 9 to 24 attachment ports, from food to medicine to what have you being delivered to the person. The container would be negatively or positively charged ventilation, what ever may be needed. An incredible amount of air filtration system maybe some where around 8 to 10 times. Allowing only molecular air to pass. All germs (virii and bacteria) is completely removed, collected and sampled and whatever else is needed. A multipaned window is visible so doctors, nurses, and other researchers can see the patient and interact with them. Since, I am not a researcher or a doctor, I do not know all the items needed to do this project with. I am thinking the less a patient is interacted with, the better for them.

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