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Field hospitals


The growing demand for hospital beds resulting from the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 epidemic, led the Agency for Safety and Emergencies and the Ministry of Sanitary Service and Public Health to promote, among other measures, the urgent implementation of three field hospitals in the Autonomous Community of Valencia. One of them in Castellón, another in Valencia and a third in Alicante. In all cases, on plots adjoining existing hospitals (La Fe Hospital in Valencia, Alicante General Hospital and Castellón General Hospital).

Grupo TRAGSA, a public company involved in the work being developed in several Autonomous Communities to respond to the needs of the Public Administrations, was in charge of managing its construction.

IDOM contacted the Ministry of Health to offer our support in everything they might need. On Sunday, March 22, they requested our collaboration to help them in the implementation of the three hospitals.

The work consisted of the adaptation of the existing plots and the design and calculation of the supplies that needed to be transferred from the main hospital to the field hospital, mainly, electricity and water, communications installations, sanitation and medicinal gases (mainly oxygen). IDOM provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Health, on the functional organization of the standard modules (3x6m) that made up the field hospital to implement the functional hospitalization program to accommodate mild patients of COVID-19.

We had 10 days for everything: thinking, designing and building. The hospital of Valencia alone was 6,500 m2, a floor area that had to be executed in approximately 2 days.

The hospital was to be set up with 3 × 6 m modules commissioned from the Aragonese company Hispano Vema, which was also in charge of supplying the beds, bathrooms, nursing control stations, lighting…; complying with the minimum requirements of the Ministry of Health.

Each 3x6m module is equipped to accommodate two hospital beds. In total, the three hospitals have 395 hospitalization modules with 790 beds.

April 28, 2020


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Major challenges

The greatest difficulties arose from the size of the plots and the number of beds to be included, their location, since they were already predetermined, the connections of the infrastructures with the main hospitals, the complicated design of circulations and, above all, of the lack of time to stop and think.

Field hospitals are usually used by military organizations, not for this type of situation, so initially, there were no real standards in existing health infrastructure design.

In conclusion, it has been an emergency solution with some shortcomings, which could have been resolved with more time and planning.

Lessons learned

If we have learned from this experience, it is that, given the possibility of similar situations arising in the future, we must now begin to plan such actions, so that all factors are studied in advance: the ideal place for the plot , the preparation of the connection, the design of the accesses, and distribution and type of modules.

Another very important issue to keep in mind is that we must count on the input of the medical and nursing staff from the outset.

On the other hand, the main hospitals must be prepared so that they can, first of all, grow inwards using versatile and flexible solutions previously considered. If they are congested, and as a last resort, outward growth can begin.

Night view of the field hospital in Valencia: "El Meridiano L´Horta" newspaper