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Max Tomasinelli, CURA, Corona, Italy

Prototypes set up: CURA Pod isolation units for coronavirus patients

It can still happen that hospitals come up against their capacity when it comes to looking after patients who must endure a difficult struggle with covid-19. Intensive-care beds with the possibility of ventilation are playing a significant role. 

At the beginning of March, experts from the areas of design, architecture, medicine and the military initiated an open-source project under the leadership of Carlo Ratti. They investigated transforming shipping containers into autonomous isolation spaces with ventilation beds. The technical report is available to all on the website www.CURApods.org. Since then, more than 2,000 people have shown interest in copying the modules, which are known as CURA pods, or in contributing to the project with their own ideas and suggestions concerning the development of the units. In just four weeks, a prototype has been developed, produced and installed at a temporary hospital set up by the Italian health authorities at the former OGR complex in Turin.

Since the 19th of April, doctors and nurses have been tending the first patients to use the plug-in unit, which has medical equipment for two occupants. Medical staff can observe the patients’ condition through two glass windows on each longitudinal side; visitors can also use these windows to get as close as possible to their loved ones, at least visually. A biocontainment system with vacuum pressure protects hospital staff from contagion by the covid-19 pathogen. The temporary hospital has made 92 beds available over an area of 8,900 m2. From here, the CURA pod is accessed via an inflatable structure that can be used either as a dressing room or for storage. As needed, up to 40 units can be connected this way. While in Turin the first patients are being treated in the container, more autonomous CURA units are being built around the world and will soon be ready for use. 

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