5 Hospitals Made from Shipping Containers

Are there hospitals made from shipping containers?

It may seem like a strange question, but with the growing threat of COVID-19, many in healthcare are considering different options for testing and treatment.

In this article, we’ll look at 5 hospitals made from shipping containers, what the purpose behind them was, and what we can use them for now.

How COVID-19 is Affecting Healthcare


COVID-19 is affecting every business industry, but especially healthcare.

Medical facilities around the world are struggling to keep up with the spread of the virus.

Testing kits are still short in supply, while hospitals are seeing an increase of patients from different age ranges being affected.

On top of COVID-19, hospitals and other medical facilities still need to deal with normal everyday illnesses, along with the growing anxiety many now cope with.

This growing lack of space has led to some creative ideas on how to provide the needed extra beds and testing labs such as building hospitals in shipping containers.

5 Hospitals Made from Shipping Containers


Hospitals being made from shipping containers is not a new idea.

Let’s look at 5 hospitals that were made or are being made from shipping containers.


1. Hospitals of Hope – Clinic In A Can

The concept of mobile medical clinics began in 2005 with Hospitals of Hope, a non-profit organization that conducts medical, education, and evangelistic missions in countries around the world.

Seeing the lack of basic medical care after their expansion into Haiti, Hospitals of Hope developed the Clinic In A Can.

Clinic In A Can is a self-contained medical clinic built in a shipping container.

Clinic in a Can exam room

Typical clinics feature two exam rooms, a lab, and a mechanical room that houses a generator and water system.

These clinics can be modified into whatever medical facility is needed, such as:

  • Dental room
  • Radiology suite
  • Surgical suite

These clinics have been deployed globally in times of disaster.

They were an important emergency response during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, helping to provide medical relief to the country and its citizens.


2. Containers2Clinics – Grace Children’s Hospital

During the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, 80% of Grace Children’s Hospital’s buildings were toppled.

Container2Clinics, also a non-profit organization and based in Massachusetts, was in the midst of refurbishing two 20-foot shipping containers into a maternal-care clinic.

Hearing about the earthquake, the organization redesigned the containers and instead sent them to Haiti.

In the months after the earthquake, the hospital was able to care for nearly 4500 patients thanks to the clinic.


3. Texas A&M University – BUILD

After a devastating fire in 1999 that killed 12 students, founding BUILD member Bryson Sutterfield wanted to start a new tradition that would not only help those on campus, but surrounding areas as well.

BUILD COVID clinic on truck

Led by the student body at Texas A&M, BUILD has begun to establish medical clinics that are made up of 40-foot shipping containers.

Called the Texas Aggie Medical Clinics (TAMU), these shipping containers are created and delivered to their partner, Medical Bridges in Houston.

Recently, one of the TAMU clinics will be delivered to the Memorial Hermann Hospital in order to help with COVID-19 testing.


4. Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments/CURA

At the end of March, there were over 377,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world.

With the strain of health systems growing, Carlo Ratti Associati and the MIT Senseable City Lab looked to address the need for ICU units.

Teaming up with engineering firms, logistic experts, and medical equipment suppliers, they have created CURA or Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments.

CURA - Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments

CURA is designed to be quick to set up as a biocontainment facility to prevent the spread of the disease.

And because they are made from shipping containers, the units can be moved to different parts of the world.

CURA is currently in development.


5. Doctors Without Borders/MSF – Container Village

Container Village was an entire medical facility built out of shipping containers in the southwest of Mombasa Island in Kenya.

Constructed during a countrywide nurses’ strike in 2017, the village consisted of a maternity ward where more than 1,000 mothers gave birth in one month alone.

The health center was run by Doctors without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières, the famous non-profit that provides aid to countries that need medical care.

Currently, MSF is providing treatment and equipment to many countries, including areas in Hong Kong, Italy, and South Africa.

These are just five organizations that have hospitals made of shipping containers. Others, such as Three Squared, Hospitainer, First Aid Global and Global First Responder are also looking into hospital expansion using shipping containers.

Why Use Shipping Containers


Shipping containers are incredibly versatile because of their ability to withstand harsh weather conditions and their ease of movement.

This makes them ideal for places that need access to medical care, especially in locations prone to earthquakes, storms, and other natural disasters.

They are also customizable, allowing for a wide variety of different structures to be created.

Customized container

As the response to COVID-19 continues, the prospect of more hospitals made from shipping containers grows as well.

If you’re a medical facility or professional looking to implement a shipping container hospital or mobile medical unit, contact us today at 800.686.9114.