Coronavirus Pushes Construction of New Hospitals

February 20, 2020
Coronavirus Pushes Construction of New Hospitals

How long did it take project manager, Fang Xiang, to build a 645,000 square foot hospital with beds for 1,000 corona virus patients in Wuhan, China?

Using a team of 7,000 workers laboring around the clock, the monumental task was completed in just ten days.  About 1,400 military doctors and medical staff, many of whom worked with SARS patients in the past, have been brought in to help treat the patients.

Additional posts on OM in the News discussing the coronavirus and supply chain management can be found here.

Video Spotlight: Time-Lapse Video shows Around-The-Clock Construction Of Chinese Virus Hospitals

This post is based on the NBC News article, China’s coronavirus hospital built in 10 days opens its doors, state media says, by Yuliya Talmizan, February 3, 2020, and the YouTube video, Time-Lapse Video shows Around-The-Clock Construction Of Chinese Virus Hospitals, by NBC News, January 31, 2020. Image source: sfam_photo/Shutterstock.

Discussion Questions:

1. What special challenges did Xiang face in the rush to build this project?

Guidance: Xiang reported that normally it would take at least a month to build a temporary facility of this size, and two years would be required to build a permanent hospital such as this.

First, he, the Chinese government, and his team had to locate enough manpower, materials, and equipment for the task.  Coordinating the timing and arrival of workers, equipment, and materials is a challenge for any project manager, but given the compressed nature of this job and its monumental scale, this task was especially daunting.  Problems or delays at any step can delay the entire project.  In this case, workers are said to have worked in shifts around the clock, with some reporting on Chinese newscasts that they slept only two hours in three days.

In addition to constructing the building, all the beds and hospital equipment needed to be sourced, installed, and ready for use for the patients who began arriving February 3, and the build itself began on January 24, 2020!

2. How much capacity does the city of Wuhan need to assist the corona virus patients?

Guidance: That will be a difficult question to answer, even among the best-intentioned observers.  However, it is hard to know if even this facility, and another with 1,300 beds intended to open later in February 2020, can meet the needs of a city of 11 million residents who are under lockdown and unable to travel elsewhere for treatment.  It is hard to accurately estimate the number of those who are sick when many are likely staying at home, since space in medical facilities is limited.  Depending on how successful China is in containing the outbreak, the current hospital capacity could prove adequate or turn out to still be greatly lacking.


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