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PCL designs ‘Quaran-Tin’ pods to expand COVID-19 hospital spaces

Russell Hixson
PCL designs ‘Quaran-Tin’ pods to expand COVID-19 hospital spaces
PCL CONSTRUCTION — A Quaran-Tin Pod, PCL Construction’s protype for emergency medical space, sits at its yard in Winnipeg. The company designed the pods to give communities and hospitals a rapid, affordable way to increase medical facilities in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

PCL Construction is putting its modular construction expertise to use in the fight against COVID-19 by building specialized quarantine pods in Winnipeg.

“In the early days of COVID-19 everyone was rocked,” said Wade Harms, special projects manager for PCL. “Everyone was on their heels about what this means and how it could impact business. Right now, construction is still an essential service, we have been allowed to carry on, so we have been thinking about how we can help others, how we can respond.”

Harms said the company decided to do what it knows best: build. And with many parts of the country anticipating surges in patient volume, the potential need for emergency medical space still looms. If hospitals fill up and can’t properly isolate infectious patients, other patients and hospital staff could be at risk. 

“Hallway medicine would exacerbate the problem and provide no privacy or dignity for patients,” Harms said. “We thought about what we could offer that is quick to setup and not expensive to give people shelter, privacy, dignity, safety measures and doesn’t put others at risk. PCL is a huge supporter of modular construction. So, we looked around at what we could apply from our bag of tricks.”

PCL’s Winnipeg team reached out to government officials and experts to design Quaran-Tin Pods. Their partners on the project are f-BLOK architecture, P4 electric, Thor Plumbing & Heating and E.H. Price.

Using the shell of a Sea-Can container, the team designed temporary and reusable emergency isolation pods for care and treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The containers can be customized to accommodate the type of medical equipment or technology needed. An order of units can be manufactured and shipped within two weeks.

Fully outfitted units can be installed with a forklift or placed with a tilt deck trailer and rendered fully operational within minutes of arrival onsite.

They come with HEPA air filtration/conditioning and hospital grade coatings and finishes that allow for effective sterilization. The units are also designed to easily interconnect and can be set up in parking lots or green space as they only require an AC power connection for heating and air conditioning. 

“There has been a fair amount of interest from different areas and different types of businesses,” said Monique Buckberger, the district manager for PCL Constructors Canada Winnipeg.

In addition to regional health authorities considering options to expand their medical space, PCL has heard from First Nations groups worried about their communities becoming overwhelmed with cases. PCL has also heard from the Red Cross which has added the pods as an option for various locations should the need arise. 

Buckberger noted the ability to customize configurations and outfit the pods with different equipment means they could be used for emergency situations beyond COVID-19.


Follow the author on Twitter @RussellReports.

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