CURA: open-source design for emergency COVID-19 hospitals
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, an international task force of designers, engineers, medical professionals, and military experts have joined to work on CURA, an open-source project aimed at capacity building in Intensive-Care Units (ICU). The first prototype of CURA, whose name stands for Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments (and also “cure” in Latin), is currently being built in Milan, Italy, with the sponsorship of UniCredit bank. It uses repurposed shipping containers to create plug-in biocontainment pods that 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.
CURA is a compact Intensive-Care pod for patients with respiratory infections, hosted in a 20-foot intermodal container with biocontainment (thanks to negative pressure). Each unit works autonomously and can be shipped anywhere. Individual pods are connected by an inflatable structure to create multiple modular configurations (from 4 beds to over 40), which can be deployed in just a few hours. Some pods can be placed in proximity to a hospital (e.g. in parking lots) to expand the ICU capacity, while others could be used to create self-standing field hospitals of varying sizes.
CURA aims to improve the efficiency of existing solutions in the design of field hospitals, tailoring them to the current pandemic. 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. Whatever the evolution of this pandemic, it is expected that more ICUs will be needed internationally in the next few months.
CURA is developed in an open-source, non-for-profit framework and solicits suggestions and improvements.