Modular construction allows hospitals and healthcare entities to quickly increase the number of patients they can care for during construction projects or during pandemic situations. Hospitals and healthcare facilities are not equipped to handle a large influx of patients in a very short timeframe. Hospitals maintain enough bed space for a typical patient load and do not have a large amount of spare patient beds — the maintenance cost for having a large amount of unused patient bed space just doesn’t make sense. A better solution is to provide a means to rapidly scale up the number of available patient beds utilizing prefabricated units or being able to quickly construct new facilities. In a situation like a pandemic, modular construction speed is its biggest advantage.
During the initial COVID-19 outbreak, in Wuhan, China, we saw the construction of large facilities to house infected patients constructed in just 10 days. Although it is unclear if these facilities would meet the standards of typical hospital construction seen in the United States and other countries, it is impressive to see such a feat of engineering and construction. A modularly constructed hospital, built to the same codes and standards as typical hospitals, may not be able to match the speed of construction seen in China, but certainly offers a more efficient solution than typical construction methods may be able to provide. Patient rooms could be fabricated off-site, while foundations and structural steel work are being performed on site. The prefabricated patient rooms are then brought on site, positioned and installed, and connected to building central infrastructure such as HVAC, domestic water, sanitary, emergency power and electrical system, and sprinkler systems.