Coronavirus – Carlo Ratti, founder of CRA – Carlo Ratti Associati and director of MIT Senseable City Lab, has developed CURA, a compact Intensive-Care pod for patients with respiratory infections, hosted in a 20-foot intermodal container with biocontainment. The unit is being built for test at a hospital in Milan, Italy.
The pods “can be quickly deployed in cities around the world, promptly responding to the shortage of ICU space in hospitals and the spread of the disease.” Explained Carlo Ratti.
The units are connected by an inflatable structure to create multiple modular configurations (from 4 beds to over 40), and can be placed in proximity to a hospital to expand the ICU capacity, or could be used to create self-standing field hospitals of varying sizes.
Each CURA pod would contain all the medical equipment needed for two COVID-19 intensive-care patients – including ventilators and intravenous fluids stands. All units can be connected by an inflatable corridor.
The first CURA pod – whose open-source design has been initiated by an international task force of architects, engineers, doctors, military experts and NGOs and is open to further contributions – were developed with the sponsorship of European bank UniCredit.
In the last weeks, hospitals in the countries most affected by COVID-19, from China to Italy, Spain to the USA, have been struggling to increase their ICU capacity to admit a growing number of patients with severe respiratory diseases, in need of ventilators.
The response to the emergency has been to set up makeshift emergency hospitals such as tents, or build new prefabricated wards with biocontainment. While the latter option is time and resource-intensive, the former one exposes medical professionals to a higher risk of contamination and adds operational strain, especially in the long run.
Learning from both approaches, CURA strives to be as fast to mount as a hospital tent, but as safe as a hospital’s isolation ward to work in, thanks to biocontainment – an extractor creates indoor negative pressure, complying with the standards of Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms AIIRs. It follows the standards for COVID-19 hospitals issued by the Chinese authorities, while speeding up execution.