MODULAR construction firm Ardmac has launched a new prefab building design for hospitals to add isolation and intensive care units quickly.
Chief executive Ronan Quinn told the Irish Independent that the MediPod design would cut in half the time needed for a hospital to erect an ICU wing.
Ardmac, based in Swords, Co Dublin, employs 260 staff and 100 tradesmen in building a range of modular buildings that can be transported by lorry for assembly on site.
The first MediPod units are due for completion within four to six weeks.
The firm is currently expanding its factory lines as part of a new partnership with Germfree Laboratories, an American provider of mobile Covid-19 field testing facilities. Under that still-to-be-finalised agreement, Ardmac will be- come Germfree's European builder and distributor of the Florida firm's own designs of modular lab buildings used principally by the pharmaceutical industry.
Mr Quinn said the MediPods, like most modular buildings, are not cheaper to build than traditional structures and are just as sturdy, with typical 60-year life spans. But they can be assembled far more quickly - and potentially disassembled and redeployed at other locations for different functions.
Each MediPod includes heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, plumbing, electrics, medical gases and primary containment equipment. Two rooms on either end provide ICUs for individual patients, with staff, supply, cleaning and changing rooms in between.
Mr Quinn said MediPods typically would be arranged in pairs with a corridor in between and, when erected end to end, will create a new intensive care wing for a hospital within weeks rather than months. The MediPods also could be stacked to create a multi-floor structure.
Ardmac is in discussions with the HSE and plans to market the system principally in Ireland and the UK.
"The MediPods are designed to be more of a long-term solution for adding capacity beside existing hospitals," Mr Quinn said. "Speed is always an issue in these areas. People don't take the decision until it's almost too late."
Ardmac has assembled several modular structures at existing HSE facilities, including Crumlin Hospital's hematopoietic stem cell transplantation unit and the IVF clinic at Holles Street.
It also designs and erects data centres for cloud computing firms and cleanroom facilities for the tech and biopharma sectors.