Answering the Call
An impending surge of COVID-19 cases. Fears of overflowing hospitals. A narrow window of opportunity to prepare for a potential tsunami of patients. An unprecedented situation for the city, the country and the world.
This was the situation in the City of Chicago in April 2020, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Army Corps of Engineers were called in to build a 3,000-bed field hospital. The site they selected for the facility was McCormick Place Convention Center Chicago.
Of course, transforming space traditionally used for trade shows into an enormous field hospital was a massive undertaking. It would require three entire halls in the convention center.
Instead of the 6–9 months that it typically takes, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded contracts in a little over 3 days by negotiating directly with contractors they knew could deliver on time.
Essential Air Movement Equipment
One of the many needs in building the field hospital was to find a supplier who could handle the essential air movement equipment. They selected Mitsubishi Electric drives not just because of the quality and performance, but also for the quick delivery.
Our job was to provide fan control for the ventilation and filtration system for the negative pressure tents installed in the convention center to handle the more severely ill patients. Controlling airflow is critical with an airborne disease like COVID-19. To keep the virus from escaping whenever doors were opened, 500 negative-pressure tents needed to be created. The negative pressure airflow would also keep contamination away from caregivers.