By World Healthcare Journal-
Disasters happen everywhere. Earthquakes, violent storms and freak weather incidents cause massive damage to economies and populations seemingly regularly. Just last year, a report from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) found that the losses caused by natural disasters over the past 20 years have amounted to a monumental $2.25 trillion.
This poses a particularly dangerous threat to healthcare facilities. Healthcare infrastructure is one of the most vital parts of society – even more so when a disaster strikes - and damage to hospitals, surgeries, and clinics can lead to drug and equipment shortages, drastic waiting times, and the inability to provide high standards of care.
However, at Q-bital we aim to ensure that when disaster strikes, hospitals don’t go without the right clinical capability. We design, develop, and build mobile healthcare solutions that can facilitate more than 75 per cent of all clinical procedures performed in a major acute hospital. We also provide laminar flow theatres, allowing clinicians to perform even the most difficult of surgeries in our units.
Mobile healthcare solutions have already proven hugely successful around the world. One notable example that comes to mind was when The Alfred Hospital in Australia suffered severe damage to its main surgical suite following a violent storm. It seemed as if many patients would have to face month-long delays to their treatment schedule, and going without a primary surgical suite for months would have been hugely detrimental to patient health, experience, and safety.
But, realising the need for high-class clinical capacity in a rapid time frame, we worked with The Alfred, providing a laminar flow theatre to fill the space of the damaged surgical suite. Embarking from the UK, our theatre completed a 15,500-mile trip to reach Australia and was fully operational within just a few days.
Given the capability to perform complex procedures in this very theatre, The Alfred made history at this time by conducting the first ever open-heart surgery in one of our mobile theatres. After modifying the theatre to accommodate the resource needed to perform the surgery, clinicians found the theatre highly satisfactory.
“The theatre exceeded expectations, and after a thorough trial process, staff began easy surgeries there. We started with some straightforward open-heart surgery cases and they went really well. It’s the first time open-heart surgery has been done in this type of portable operating theatre to my knowledge in the world,” says Professor Paul Myles, Director of Anaesthetics and Perioperative Medicine at The Alfred.
Saving lives in Guadeloupe
Another key example of mobile healthcare solutions providing essential relief was in Guadeloupe just two years ago. In November 2017, The Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) in Guadeloupe experienced a catastrophic fire that left the community without any access to surgical services, A&E facilities, or a trauma department. The 881-bed hospital is one of the major acute service providers in the region, carrying approximately 60 per cent of the care burden in the archipelago, and is one of the few hospitals able to provide critical treatments such as organ transplant or bypass surgery.
In the damage caused by the fire, the hospital’s capacity was significantly impaired. Twelve operating rooms were directly affected and experts estimated that the temperature of the floors in some of the operating rooms may have reached more than 1000°C –unprotected steel begins to weaken at just 550°C.
In the immediate aftermath of the fire, a field hospital comprised of military-style tents was set up to provide some interim care. But this was not a viable solution for the anticipated length of the renovation period. Extensive repairs to the structure and ventilation systems of the hospital were deemed necessary to ensure a safe and compliant environment for both staff and patients, but this would take several months or even a year to complete.
Guadeloupe is an island network in the Caribbean, experiencing high humidity all year round, often at 90 per cent or higher, and is also subject to a lengthy rainy season and hurricane risk in late summer and early autumn.
As the facility had to provide and maintain a high standard of care, the clinical environments had to be suitable for infection-sensitive surgery. Our laminar flow operating theatres were shipped to the islands, dispatched from the UK.
The entire operating theatre complex went live in the summer of 2018, successfully treating a fractured femur and repairing a hernia. Clinical staff from the hospital’s workforce adapted well to the new setting, pleased that the solution enabled them to provide high levels of care. Emergency and trauma patients on Guadeloupe could now be treated much more efficiently, as they no longer had to be transported to alternative, sometimes remote, sites.
This Caribbean island utilised a similar temporary solution to provide continuity of care through Q-bital during the refurbishment of its only hospital, supporting its patient community with ongoing access to services while modernising the hospital’s own facilities.
These types of solutions have applications outside of the purely clinical world. Q-bital’s service can provide an option for large events, such as in the sporting world, where temporary medical villages are installed to provide care for a specific, short-term period.
Our complexes provide surgical capability without requiring the multiple intricacies that permanent buildings would cause, meaning that they leave the surrounding area – whether that’s a hospital estate or an area outside a sports venue – with little evidence of their presence once removed. For short term, high-quality clinical service, Q-bital provides a service second to none.
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