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A look at South Africa’s new Covid-19 ‘module’ facility – which was built in just months

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Construction company Concor recently completed a fast-tracked Covid-19 facility at Jubilee Hospital, using innovative building technology. The facility was handed over to the hospital on 27 November 2020, with work having begun on-site just five months earlier in June.

The project in Hammanskraal north of Pretoria features over ten modular units, adding another 300 beds to care for Covid-19 patients for the Gauteng Department of Health.

The facility comprises five 25-bed intensive care unit (ICU) modules – complete with a two-bed isolation ward – and five 35-bed high care modules.

Rui Santos, senior contracts director at Concor, said the company already started completing modules from mid-October.

He added that the modular approach was chosen so that units could be completed and put into operation while others were still being constructed if the need arose.

“This has certainly been a demanding project in terms of its timeframe,” Santos said. “However, by applying the appropriate technologies alongside our extensive experience, we met deadlines while complying with national building standards and without compromising safety or quality.”

Concor said that almost all the required meetings and collaboration before and during the project were conducted remotely.

The ICU and high care modules each consist of two separate wings with a central nurse’s station, sluice and ablutions, with central utility areas for offices, storage areas and waiting area.

Concor said it was vital for the rapid roll-out of the project that the appropriate wet services and ventilation systems were selected, to allow all mechanical services to be commissioned on a standalone basis.

The construction company also needed to accommodate future expansion as required.

Courtney Hart, architect at Osmond Lang Architects & Planners, said that the new modules were also designed with their future use in mind – providing a lifespan beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

“While satisfying the need for a 300-bed Covid-19 facility, the facility can be used for more general hospital purposes going forward,” said Hart.

“The current design prioritises the intensive care that Covid-19 patients will require, and the ways that clinicians must conduct their procedures, including visual and physical access to the patients.

“Compliance with the various national standards was ensured as a matter of course, including SANS10400 regarding energy use and SANS10252 for water supply and drainage installations.”

Concor said that keeping up the speed of construction meant implementing a double-shift schedule, ensuring work continued almost 24 hours a day.

To maintain the necessary momentum, Concor said that it strengthened its core complement of employees, making for an on-site workforce at peak – including subcontractors – of 350 to 400 people.

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