A devastating fire

Across the Caribbean sea, a project is underway to place four Q-bital mobile clinical facilities on the island of Guadeloupe. It is a French oversees territory and part of the Lesser Antilles land cluster.

The Centre Hospitalier Regional Universitaire Pointe-à-Pitre, one of the major acute hospitals in the region and a leading specialist hospital in the Caribbean, suffered a serious fire on the 28th of November 2017. The incident required the evacuation of more than 1200 people, including staff and patients. The fire originated in a technical room underneath the operating theatre complex. Investigators assessed the condition of the hospital in the aftermath. They estimated that the flooring in the theatres reached approximately 1000 degrees Celsius. When representatives from Q-bital arrived to view the hospital, the flooring was still warm.

With the flooring in the theatre complex no longer safe and in need of extensive refurbishment, the hospital faced the challenge of continuing to provide surgical care for its large patient population.

A unique solution tailored for the Caribbean climate

Within a month of the fire, Q-bital representatives had attended the hospital site. They developed a plan for replacing the crucial surgical capacity lost to the fire. In short order, 4 mobile clinical facilities were on their way to the island. These included 2 operating theatres, a clinic and a ward, which provides additional patient recovery space.

The length of the journey was only the first challenge that the Q-bital team faced in installing the units safely and quickly on-site. The units were shipped from Southampton direct to Guadeloupe. A crane and specialist equipment lifted them on and off the cargo ship. They made the remainder of the journey overland and arrived safely at the hospital site.

Mobile healthcare facility is lifted by crane at Caribbean port

The placement of the units presented another challenge. The hospital protrudes from the side of a hill, so finding appropriately level and firm footing for the facilities was difficult. Q-bital are collaborating with regular partner Young Medical to build suitable foundations for the units. These not only level the footings to the necessary degree but also offer protection from vibrations within the operating theatres caused by natural events such as earth tremors and tropical storms.

Young Medical are also working with Q-bital staff to construct clinically compliant, environmentally-controlled corridors to connect the new complex to the main hospital. This will improve patient flow and experience. Specialist ventilation units to combat the humidity and Caribbean heat are also integrated into the units. If the team did not consider these factors, they could cause equipment and environmental faults. As a result on the custom ventilation, staff and patients can operate in safe and comfortable surroundings.

A collaborative approach

The first Q-bital units are now in place and are due to be commissioned for operational use shortly. This complex process involves n mandatory safety testing of the systems. It also includes training for hospital staff to support the implementation of best practice within their new clinical environment.

The project is due to run for a minimum of 8 months to allow for comprehensive repairs to the damaged operating theatre complex. In the meantime, the 881-bed hospital will be decanting some of their surgical patient flow into the Q-bital units, ensuring that the people of the island continue to have access to the highest quality clinical care in a safe and comfortable setting.