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Sea cans to COVID-19 isolation rooms: PCL, partners develop ‘Quaran-Tin Pods’


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May 20, 2020 by On-Site Staff

With COVID-19 straining capacity or threatening to cause outbreaks at conventional healthcare facilities, PCL Construction has turned to an unlikely, shipping industry staple to help aid medical teams during the pandemic.

Leaning on its experience in modular and pre-fab, the Canadian contractor is converting sea cans into portable isolation rooms for patients with the virus.

The units have various configurations, including in two- and five-bed layouts. PHOTO: PCL

“COVID-19 changed how we operate our business while allowing us to show our true character and be part of the solution to this unprecedented challenge,” said Wade Harms, the manager for Special Projects within PCL’s Winnipeg district, in a release. “We identified that treating patients with COVID-19 would tax the capabilities of smaller remote healthcare facilities that might have only one or two intensive care units.”

Officially called Quaran-Tin Pods, the modular units can be laid out for a range of functions — including in two- and five-bed models, or as a staff shower facility. The company says they can be set up with minimal site infrastructure and shipped quickly to anywhere in Canada. A prototype for the units, for instance, was developed and built in two weeks.

PCL’s Special Project wing partnered with Thor Plumbing and Heating, f-BLOK Architecture Inc. E.H. Price Industries and P4 Electrical Contractors on the new units.

Each has a single connection point to power the entire module, has built-in heating and cooling and has hook-ups for medical gases, such as oxygen. With the pandemic in mind, any exhaust from the negatively-pressurized rooms is HEPA-filtered before being released outside the container.

The modules can be put in place using a forklift or tilt deck trailer and be up and running a few minutes after arriving on-site.