Fedex creates a portable emergency hospital to be staffed by International Medical Corps

A portable emergency hospital has landed in Memphis.

The modular hospital, designed by FedEx and staffed by International Medical Corps, will make vital medical care available to those in need around the world.

“Our collaboration with FedEx means that we can bring this hospital nearly anywhere in the world, 24 to 48 hours after a disaster,” said Erica Tavares, senior director of institutional advancement at International Medical Corps.

The 50-ton field response hospital is within reach of any global disaster through FedEx's logistics networks, explained David Lusk, senior manager of global operations control at FedEx Express.

“Once International Medical Corps contacts us, our team members will jump into action to deploy all or part of the hospital on board our aircraft. It’s staged close to the FedEx World Hub and is ready to deploy,” said Lusk.

Arriving in Memphis on flatbeds, the segments are connected by a fabric covering and contain heating and air conditioning units. The hospital is comprised of 12 shelters. When fully utilized it can cover the length of a football field.

"It’s an admittance, triage, surgery, recovery and pharmacy. It’s like putting a Methodist hospital out in the field," said Lusk.

Three of the shelters are set up for International Medical Corps simulation and training for the mobile hospital.

The mobile unit can handle upwards of 300 surgeries or 6,000 outpatient visits per month. It can also be sent, section by section, anywhere on the map.

International Medical Corps turned to Fedex to design an emergency hospital that was modular and could meet the needs to natural disasters both big and small. 

“International Medical Corps turned to us to help make the hospital more flexible and adaptable,” said Lusk.

“Our emergency response team knew that the hospital’s assets, if stored and deployed more flexibly, could be instrumental in saving lives,” said Tavares.

Working with FedEx, International Medical Corps has access to the Memphis-based company's logistics and supply chain expertise. When doctors, arrive, there is confidence they will have the tools and resources they need.

The original mobile hospital was developed following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The new design by Fedex is fit to respond to other types of disasters and emergencies. 

“Now that FedEx has worked with International Medical Corps to make the field hospital more modular, it can also be deployed to smaller-scale disasters such as the 2015 earthquake in Nepal,” said Lusk.

The areas International Medical Corps serves are generally on the brink of disaster, so mobile hospitals need to be self-sustaining. The new facility comes with generators, water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management facilities.

In addition to large-scale disasters like earthquakes, International Medical Corps will have a hospital right-sized for the situation. It could also be used during disease outbreaks, nutrition emergencies, and refugee crisis, for instance.

In addition to than FedEx, funding for the hospital came from individuals and the private sector. International Medical Corps' fundraising has an international reach. It also draws from NGOs, foreign governments and U.N. agencies to fund its relief projects.

“In the event of a disaster, International Medical Corps mobilizes the support and resources from its base of thousands of individuals in the U.S. and globally,” said Tavares.

As part of relief efforts, International Medical Corps also trains and hires frontline health workers from the communities it aids to support the local response effort.

“So communities can be their own best first responders in the future,” explained Tavares. "Through the deployment of the field hospital, International Medical Corps will also build the capacity and strength of the local health system."

Ultimately, the goal of the collaboration between FedEx and International Medical Corps is a simple one.

“Together, we are saving more lives, wherever and whenever its needed most,” said Lusk.

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