Showing a great deal of innovation and flexibility, an organisation in affordable housing was able to switch smartly to serve the needs in handling the Covid-19 pandemic by supplying pop-up hospitals called SAFEPOD – creating more bed space in much-needed areas.

The innovative homegrown health facilities were designed to meet the growing need for facilities to treat Covid-19 patients and fill the much-needed hospital infrastructure gap.

The concept was developed by a consortium of South African companies with expertise in lightweight building solutions, solar energy, medical equipment, and software solutions.

Also read: Pop-up field hospitals on the way

Some members of the consortium were at an advanced stage of developing quality affordable housing solutions for local manufacture when they identified the need to design treatment facilities for Covid-19 patients. In an innovative move they adapted the affordable housing plans to health care facilities and brought other partners on boards with specialist expertise.

SAFEPOD can be erected on any site in South Africa. It adds additional hospital beds, screening facilities, isolation wards and intensive care units to the national health capacity. The medical facilities are fully operational within three to six weeks of order.

SAFEPOD follows the WHO guidelines and CSIR guidelines for alternate medical facilities. Image credit: Safepod 

SAFEPOD follows the WHO guidelines and CSIR guidelines for alternate medical facilities. Image credit: Safepod

Two field hospitals have been completed in the Northern Cape recently opened.

SAFEPOD hospitals are manufactured in modules in South Africa and so can be erected very quickly anywhere in the country as temporary or permanent structures. The company is also preparing to operate in other African countries where consortium members already have a presence.

The modules have a solar power system, air circulation and gas reticulation systems, and all the approved medical equipment needed to treat Covid-19 patients. They have been designed to be erected in urban or in remote rural areas, where the need is likely to be greatest.

All medical equipment is ISO and SANS certified. SAFEPOD follows the WHO guidelines and CSIR guidelines for alternate medical facilities. The building meets all requirements for National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC), Infrastructure Unit Support Systems (IUSS) and R158 regulations for private healthcare facilities.

CEO Dave Kruger says, “We acted out of the urgent need to address a potential global crisis as the pandemic spread rapidly throughout the world. We predicted the incredible strain that Covid-19 would put on health care facilities, even in developed countries with better health infrastructure. We pulled together the best South African expertise we could find. I am pleased with the result. It is an innovative, homegrown solution that we can be proud of. I see an incredible opportunity for growth while assisting with an urgent humanitarian crisis.”

“I’m particularly proud that SAFEPOD is 100% locally manufactured. About 70% of the medical equipment is imported. However, we are also looking at developing a local pipeline of manufacturers for ventilators and beds, which will reduce our dependency on imported medical equipment,” said Kruger.