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With the need to turn around patient rooms, ICUs and containment units in record time to address the COVID-19 crisis, many local Governments and States have turned to modular construction as a solution.
In this blog post, we interviewed our client Antony Kountouris, CEO of BMarko Structures on how his team met the challenge of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency by delivering 24 modular patient rooms in record time to the Phoebe Putney Memorial North Hospital.
We also discuss the long term use of modular and offsite construction as a means to build state of the art hospitals and healthcare facilities faster and more cost effectively.
Q: Congratulations on successfully completing the Phoebe Putney Memorial North Hospital project in record time! Tell us a little bit about how you were approached by the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency to address their immediate need for patient rooms during the COVID-19 crisis? Were they actively looking for modular technology as a means to address the shortage?
A: Early on in the process, we created and started recruiting for an initiative we called Liberty Boxes. Just like Liberty Ships in WWII, standing up against COVID-19 was going to take everyone’s effort and commitment on a vast level. We reached out to as many State Emergency Management Agencies as we could until GEMA finally reached out to us saying they needed a solution, and they needed it fast.
Q: We’ve heard how other governments have leveraged modular construction during the COVID-19 crisis given it’s speed and efficiency. In the future, how can the federal government be best prepared to leverage modular builders like yourself during a crisis (e.g. natural disasters, pandemics, etc)?
A: In my opinion, a lot of government agencies are unrealistic with their lead time requirements for new hospitals. They need a solution in a matter of days, with the expectation to solve this issue in a matter of a week and are not patient enough to wait slightly longer for a long term solution. That forces them to look at fabric made structures, which are as temporary as nature decides them to be and don’t include the sophisticated HVAC and air circulation available with more permanent modular rooms.
Q: Today, modular and offsite construction has become a hot topic among real estate developers and general contractors. From your experience, how do you see the adoption curve happening? What challenges need to be solved for offsite to become the industry standard?
A: I believe we are at a tipping point in the construction industry where offsite is becoming more and more attractive for both developers and general contractors trying to realize the speed benefits of modular construction. Once the learning curve is overcome and the repeated success of modular/offsite projects are highlighted, I would expect the number of offsite projects to exponentially grow over the next few years and potentially overtake onsite/stick-built construction in the future.