How Struggling Hospitals are Using Shipping Containers

At the time of this writing, the US is still in the first phase of the COVID-19 outbreak. Lockdowns have been reissued and hospitals have announced a lack of beds.

But despite the seemingly bleak outlook, a positive insight is seeing how struggling hospitals are using shipping containers to expand or increase their needs.

In this article, we’ll look at how struggling hospitals are using shipping containers in their practice and how it may help us in during the time.

How Struggling Hospitals are Using Shipping Containers


During the summer of 2020, several cities and states that had previously re-opened businesses or lifted their lockdowns had to immediately reapply them due to increases in cases.

COVID-19 Cases in the US

For healthcare providers and facilities, these increases have started to tax their spaces and facilities.

This has resulted in turning away patients, lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), decreasing ICU patient beds, increased exposure for medical professionals, and more.

To combat these challenges, hospitals, medical organizations, and other businesses are looking to using shipping containers to help address them.

We looked at a few ways that hospitals can use shipping containers in a previous article.

Hospital Rooms & ICUs

As mentioned, many healthcare facilities are being overwhelmed with the amount of COVID-19 cases. This does not take into effect patients who have entered the hospital with other ailments.

Because of this, the reality of a bed shortage is beginning to grow, causing hospitals to reach a unprecedented capacity.

And because of the symptoms of the corona virus, many patients have ended up in the ICU, also placing a strain on urgent and emergency care functions and systems.

Since March, a number of businesses have been building additional rooms or ICUs out of shipping containers.

CURA - Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments

Take the Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments or CURA project. Designed to provide ICU rooms that are sterile and can be easily moved to one or other locations.

The first of these units was deployed to a hospital in Italy, one of the first countries to struggle with overwhelming incoming patients.

CURA is simple and quick to assemble and disassemble, allowing for ease of moving from one hospital to another and being set up easily.

CURA isn’t the only business who has responded to the current crisis – several businesses and organizations have responded to the needs of medical professionals.

General Hospitals

Aside from providing hospitals extra rooms for patients, companies have also begun to use shipping containers as hospitals.

Container hospitals have actually been around for a long time, usually supplying regional areas or countries with medical access in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

We looked at 5 of these types of hospitals, which includes the popular Clinic in a Can organization and the BUILD project from the Texas A&M University.

BUILD COVID clinic on truck

As with the expanded rooms and ICUs, these shipping container hospitals help to extend hospital flooring and departments.

For instance, Container2Clinics were able to use two 20-foot refurbished shipping containers and created a temporary hospital after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

The earthquake destroyed nearly 80% of the children’s hospital, leaving patients without available care; however, the containers were able to care for 4500 patients in the aftermath.

Container hospitals operate like regular medical facilities, but in many cases, are able to provide care for those in rural areas or areas that are too far away from a main hospital location.

In cases where there may be a shortage of staff, container hospitals can be a great way to still deliver care to patients.

This was the case in 2017 on Mombasa Island in Kenya. A country wide nurses’ strike left many patients, especially women on the verge of birth, without OB staff.

Doctors without Borders was able to construct an entire village of shipping container hospitals, focusing on maternity ward patients. They were able to help more than 1,000 mothers deliver.

Testing Facilities

Along with a growing shortage of hospital beds, another concern is for testing facilities.

Testing for the corona virus can help identify those who have the infection and those who do not. The challenge is being able to provide facilities that carry tests and can implement them.

Medical Testing Facility

Emergency mobile offices can be great way to provide more testing facilities once tests become more available.

These mobile offices, like container hospitals, are easily movable so they can travel to areas that may not have access or the ability to reach these facilities.

In this article, we look at how struggling hospitals are using shipping containers to help alleviate the stress and strains of the current outbreak.

We looked at how shipping containers can be used as hospital rooms, ICUs, actual hospitals, and testing facilities.

The corona virus is still ongoing, so the predictions and aftermath of where the situation will led is unknown.

However, this does open the doors for more alternatives to meet these challenges head on. If you’re a medical professional looking for opportunities with shipping containers, call us!

We have over 25 years of experience and can help you find the right shipping container for your medical needs. Get in touch with us at 800.686.9114