Modular construction just what the doctor ordered for health care

Modular construction just what the doctor ordered for health care

Like other sectors of Canada’s economy, the healthcare industry is looking to accelerate construction and source facilities that meet their high standards.

To meet both requirements, many healthcare providers rely on modular methods.

The modular design saves time because it allows part of the work to be done in an enclosed factory sheltered from wind, rain and snow while the building is being founded.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to rethink our approach to healthcare,” said Kevin Read, President and CEO of Nomodic Modular Structures Inc. in Calgary.

Nomodic is an integrator of components, including volumetric modules, manufactured indoors off-site and then transported and assembled on-site.

“As the world adapts to new healthcare protocols, it is also rethinking how medical spaces are designed and used,” said Read.

The healthcare system needs fast and innovative solutions for patient testing, treatment and quarantine protocols, he said.

“Modular units that have had many other uses for years can be adapted for medical use,” Read said.

FILE PHOTO – Workers at the makeshift facility for COVID-19 patients at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ontario.

The structures can be used as supplemental units to treat patients with non-urgent medical conditions, thereby keeping them away from often busy hospital emergency rooms.

“New technologies allow us to create a number of different patient care settings within one volumetric module that can be used to create other hospital rooms or patient care settings,” said Read.

The modules have a so-called plug-and-play configuration. They are transported from the factory to the construction site, where they are connected to the mechanical, plumbing and electrical installations.

“It’s essentially a turnkey solution for the healthcare system,” Read said.

The volumetric modules are particularly beneficial in remote and indigenous communities, he said.

Another Calgary based manufacturer, Sprung Instant Structures Ltd., makes modular buildings from tensioned membranes.

“Sprung manufactures rapidly deployable, durable fabric structures that are insulated and designed for year-round, long-term use,” said Vice President Jim Avery.

Founded in Calgary in 1887, Sprung is the world’s fastest way to build high-performance fabric structures for any industry, Avery said.

Building a new healthcare facility from start to finish can take as little as a few weeks.

Avery said that most of the structures Sprung makes are designed to be permanent, but are also designed to be relocated for other uses.

He said healthcare clients want to know if the structures can later be repurposed to be transitional facilities.

In the early, urgent days of COVID-19 in Canada, Sprung built temporary pandemic response units for three Canadian hospitals: Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ontario, Mississauga Trillium Hospital in Mississauga, Ontario, and Peter Lougheed Center in Calgary.

“Hospitals had to respond quickly to a sudden influx of patients with COVID-19 symptoms,” Avery said.

In Alberta, while most of the additional hospital beds needed to handle the surge in pandemic patients were freed up by the cancellation of elective surgeries, more beds were needed.

Sprung recognized the province’s situation and donated a structure that increased the Peter Lougheed Center’s capacity by 70 beds.

After the structure was installed, the physicians and nurses at Calgary Hospital’s ER wrote to Sprung to express their gratitude: “As the ER with the highest patient throughput but the fewest occupancy rates in Calgary, we have struggled over the past several years years to provide adequate treatment rooms for our increasingly complex patient population.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has only multiplied the challenges we face… By providing much-needed care rooms, the Pandemic Response Unit structure has been a critical part of our hospital’s infrastructure during the pandemic and has enhanced our ability to provide a safe and timely to ensure supply, significantly improved .”

On many projects, Sprung works with another Calgary-based company, Falkbuilt Ltd., which specializes in so-called digital interior design.

Sprung provides the outer tension membrane shell and Falkbuilt fabricates interior components – pre-engineered superbolts, digital horizontals, cladding and milling work – and delivers them for on-site installation.

Falkbuilt CEO Mogens Smed said it uses its proprietary Echo design software to create accurate building models that streamline the process from design through fabrication to installation.

“During the design phase, stakeholders use mobile devices or desktops to meet within the Revit model in the cloud to discuss and make changes in real time,” Smed said.

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