Healthcare Design Beyond Hospital Walls
In countries like Namibia, where the population density is the third lowest in the world, women and children must often walk for hours to the nearest clinic, wait in line to see the doctor or nurse, travel elsewhere to receive diagnostic testing and pharmaceuticals, and then make the long journey home.
Even if all goes well—the doctor is in and medicines are available—these patients, mostly unwell, still lose an entire day to this process.
Living and working as a clinician in the developing world proved to me that a well-designed delivery system to increase patient access to simple medical interventions is vital to improving healthcare there. I founded Containers 2 Clinics (C2C) to bring that care to communities that need it.
Focusing on smart design and partnering with industry leaders, C2C has developed a new approach that’s working, providing access to care in communities in Namibia and Haiti.
The concept is simple: In partnership with Nurture, C2C has created a delivery model that converts shipping containers into health clinics. C2C’s clinics are sustainable, easily transportable, and designed to work well in low-resource settings.
One of C2C’s newest clinics opened this year in a rural settlement of more than 8,000 people along the western coast of Namibia. Since opening in February, the clinic has served more than 1,500 patients. Another location opened in Northern Haiti on August 26 and served more than 100 patients in its first two weeks of operations.
C2C worked with designers at Nurture to accomplish the main design priorities: optimization of the limited space of the containers to improve patient flow and provide an organized, respectful setting for patient care.
Two 8-foot-by-20-foot shipping containers are fabricated into fully stocked, fully equipped clinics that should last 15 years or more.
Each container includes adaptable water and power hook-ups for the low-resource settings. Appropriate climate control is achieved through efficient ventilation, heat-reflective paint, insulation, and air conditioning. Wide windows that sit high on the walls preserve privacy while letting in light, and circulate air, which both cools and prevents infection.
They include space for comprehensive care: two private consultation areas, a laboratory and pharmacy, areas for record keeping, and a shaded waiting and patient education area.
The containers can be loaded onto flatbed trucks, meaning they can be relocated to address infrastructure challenges, transient populations, or the consequences of disaster.
The United Nations set eight Millennium Development Goals in 2000—to be achieved by 2015. Three of the eight focus on health: reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and combatting major diseases in the developing world. In order to address these goals, C2C believes we must bring the best of many industries together, incorporating simple, proven methods in healthcare and design to ensure more and more people have access to the care they and their children desperately need.